On his knees he put us, dear Nick Cave. He officiated last Saturday evening at a splendid reunion with his Montreal audience for the first of two intense concerts presented at Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier at Place des Arts. The Australian and his five accompanists sang for nearly two and a half hours, favoring songs from the last two albums, Carnageappeared last year, and Phantomlaunched in the fall of 2019, transcending mourning and its acceptance, at the heart of these two discs, with as much passion as pain.
Among the words most often heard during this evening, we noted ” God ” and ” Jesus “, especially not by proselytism, rather to embody this idea of an omniscient being who observes us from above screwing up our lives, witnesses of our dramas, the kind of theme that Cave likes in his songs. ” God », « Jesus “, so, ” Shit ! very often too, and Hey ! “. As in: “It’s been two years that we can’t say “Hey !””Nick Cave launched as he finished a song, raising his fist triumphantly as if he had just delivered an uppercut to the pandemic. Because of the mask, “I can’t see your faces, he also said, but I assume they have a happy smile on their face.”
The ” Hey! resounding said as much about the pleasure we had, he on stage and we on our seats, of communing in music as about the dynamics of his concert. We knew the tour Carnagebegun in Europe last fall, would mainly focus on the material of his last two magnificent, but contrite, albums, characterized by orchestral stripping. Few guitars and percussion, lots of choirs, piano and synthesizers. Haunting songs. We expected a collected, introspective, precious concert. It was sometimes, but without pity, feeling evacuated by the punk nature of the artist returned to the gallop.
We did not expect such a pleasant and exuberant concert. At his side, the accomplice Warren Ellis, seated in a corner with a small synthesizer on his knees – almost a misuse for this musician who usually turns into a demon on stage! Behind him, a choir of three gospel voices, as well as an instrumentalist, sometimes on bass, sometimes on synth or drums. Cave opened the evening slowly with three titles by Phantom : Rotating song, shiny horses and Night Raidabout the design of its twins, room 33 of a grand hotel.
These orchestrations imprinted with austerity left all the space to the voices, in the first place that of Cave, serious and theatrical. The gospel choir made the poignant songs even more solemn; after the powerful, and rhythmic, White elephantthe graceful and resilient title track from the recent album, then the moving Phantomtwelve tear-tearing minutes, the song evoking the memory of his son Arthur who died in 2015.
Before and after the songs, always this burst, this ” Hey ! “, this thrown fist, which lifts the weight of the words on the shoulders of the public. Yes, they are serious, the songs of his last two (even three) albums, but the moment that we spend would not be disastrous. In duet with her backing vocalist Wendy Rose, Lavender fields restored hope in love, then celebrated by waiting for you and I need youjust before a cover of T. Rex, cosmic dancer.
Warren Ellis then finally grabbed his violin, the devil. He played it by also doing the acrobat on his chair, and again during the discharge God is in the house (from the album We won’t part anymore2001), enthusiastically received by longtime fans. Same for the resounding God’s handNick Cave pacing the stage, climbing on his monitors. What a presence on stage, what a performer!
Nick Cave had kept a few immortals up his sleeve for the two generous encores, the first debuting with the cynical and epic Hollywood which closes Phantom before revisiting one of his ” killer ballads », Henry Leethen Jubilee Street that the crowd was already demanding halfway through the concert. At the second encore, we were expecting it, the lament In my armsperhaps the most beautiful of its repertoire, then Ghosteen speaks. Wonderful.