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words by James Richards, photos by Joshua Ford
Kansas City's Midland theatre hosted Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds Wednesday night (6/18). Warpaint opened the show with a solid set of their post-punk influenced psych-rock and what seemed like two hundred feet of rope lights.
Then came Cave dressed in a blue suit and unbuttoned shirt--Neil Diamond on speed with the bearded Bad Seeds in tow. They opened with "We No Who U R" and wasted no time upping the energy on a rocked out version of "Jubilee Street" that saw Cave dance from one end of the stage to the other, and then move behind the piano for a few measures before bouncing up toward the front again, whipping the mic chord behind him like the tail of a caged panther.
During "Tupelo", Cave paced with intense eyes fixed on his congregation, pointing and holding out his hands only to recoil before someone could grab them--a weird foreplay the singer kept with the audience throughout the night. At one point in the song, he descended into the crowd and they pulled at him and lifted him up and his pale hairless chest shown in the spotlight while endless cell phones flashed in the theatre.
The set continued to build intensity through "Red Right Hand" and "Mermaids" on into a violent rendition of "From Her to Eternity" where Cave went into attack mode, slapping the audience's hands away and screaming the chorus. The first half of the set culminated in a soaring version of "The Weeping Song."
While the band reloaded, Cave went solo at the piano for "Into my Arms," "God is in the House," and "The Ship Song."
When the Bad Seeds rejoined--phasers set to kill--they ratcheted up the horsepower on the slow burner "Higgs Boson Blues" and an acoustic-driven "Mercy Seat." "Stagger Lee" followed and, while looser and less noisy, the tune managed to maintain the funky menace of the record. Midway through the tune, Cave's gaze, full of seductive vehemence, zeroed in on a heavyset gentleman as he sang, "I'll crawl over fifty pussies just to get to one fat boy's asshole." People cheered while Cave serenaded the man for several verses and the fan pressed forward and reached up like a proselyte at a tent revival.
The closer "Push the Sky Away" came too soon and left the crowd hungry for more. They performed "Papa Won't Leave You, Henry" for an encore. As the song ended, the Bad Seeds looked ready to soldier on, but a spent Cave abruptly dropped the mic and exited the stage.
The band may not have reached too far into their catalog, but the set was tight and scorching. Cave and company show no signs of slowing down.
More pictures and the setlist from Kansas City, below...
We No Who U R
Red Right Hand
From Her to Eternity
The Weeping Song
Into My Arms
God Is in the House
The Ship Song
Higgs Boson Blues
The Mercy Seat
Stagger Lee (Fred Waring & His Pennsylvanians cover)
Push the Sky Away
Papa Won't Leave You, Henry