With a legendary career, a reputation as an amazing showman, and two especially popular albums in a row -- 2013's Push The Sky Away and 2016's Skeleton Tree -- Nick Cave is for the first time in his 61 years of life on a tour that has him headlining arenas in the U.S. Billboard just put up a really interesting article about how he got here:

Skeleton Tree charted even higher than Push the Sky Away, hitting No. 27 on the Billboard 200, No. 2 in the UK, and No. 1 in eight territories, en route to landing a spot on nearly every publication’s best albums list of 2016. He returned to America to bigger venues with more dates attached, including four New York shows (two at Kings Theatre in Brooklyn and two at the Beacon Theatre) and dates at the Greek Theatres in Los Angeles (5870 capacity) and Berkeley, CA (8500). He also performed at arenas across Europe this time around.

But those rooms in North America were quite a lot smaller than Barclays, The Forum, or Scotiabank. How has he managed to book venues and sell tickets much bigger just a year removed from those shows -- at age 61, no less?

“I’ll tell you exactly what it is,” Hitchman bluntly responds. “Most artists -- even, frankly, David Bowie -- they hit a peak, and they’re increasingly living off nostalgia, and it’s difficult to argue anything other than that. For Nick, creatively, he’s just gone from strength to strength. If you look at Push the Sky Away and Skeleton Tree as two records that kind of go together, they’re works of art. I think Nick’s fans have gone on that journey with him, and they’ve told everyone else about it.”

Read the rest at Billboard.

It's an impressive and well-deserved journey, though it should be noted that Friday night's Brooklyn show at Barclays Center -- home of the Brooklyn Nets and and New York Islanders -- wasn't exactly a sold out show. Empty seats were visible throughout, including the multiple sections of the top level that were closed off completely. The show sounded and looked great from the top level (where two BV contributors were sitting), and the top level gives you that unique experience of getting to see the entire crowd and band simultaneously, but we witnessed multiple fans grumbling about their place in the nosebleeds (yearning for the days of shows in historic beautiful theaters aka just last year), and Nick seemed to only have eyes for the floor during most of his interactions with the audience, maybe out of habit, or maybe because it was truly frightening to look up as he joked early in the show after he asked for the audience to be lit up for a moment. These are minor issues in the scheme of things, but perhaps there are still some adjustments to be made before Nick -- otherwise one of the greatest living performers -- books venues this big again (also, $7 for a bottle of water, seriously Barclays Center?).

Part of what makes a Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds show so great is his constant interaction with the audience, and he was in fine form in Brooklyn. Those in the front row of his shows get an even more thrilling experience, as Nick is constantly right in their face. Despite the size of the venue and barriers, the basketball arena show was no different. Nick spent much of the night in front of the stage along a riser within hand's reach of the audience. He sang "The Weeping Song" on a mini riser in the middle of the audience (while balloons, which he promised were not his doing, were thrown around the audience). There are also parts he spends sitting at his piano. When he does return to the stage, he jumps on to it like a teenager, and never seems to get tired as he runs back and forth and sings his heart out. For the last two songs of the main set, "Stagger Lee" and "Push the Sky Away," he filled the stage with audience members, who were at first standing and dancing, but then told to sit. The variety and energy -- not to mention the power of his many songs and amazing band -- keep the show thrilling from start to finish.

The almost-2.5 hour setlist spanned Nick's career. He played songs off more than eight albums, ranging from the title track off his first Bad Seeds record (1984's "From Her To Eternity") to 2016's "Rings of Saturn" which was the final song of the three-song encore which also included "City of Refuge" and "The Mercy Seat." Crowd favorite Seeds member Warren Ellis began "Shoot Me Down" with his crowd-pleasing flute solo, and the whole band were given the chance more than once to go into hard rocking dissonant jams that filled the big room with cheers of approval. Other highlights included the energized newer jam "Jubilee Street" and much more somber and older piano favorite, "Into My Arms." Check out the full setlist and some videos below, and a gallery of photos from the show in the gallery above (Cigarettes After Sex's opening set included).

After a Sunday show at Toronto's Scotiabank Arena, Nick Cave has more "Conversations With" shows in January, this time in Australia and New Zealand. He also recently released an EP of audio from his concert film Distant Sky: Distant Sky – Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds Live in Copenhagen, which is out digitally and on 12" vinyl.

Setlist: Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds @ Barclays Center, 10/26/2018 (via)
Jesus Alone
Higgs Boson Blues
Do You Love Me?
From Her to Eternity
Red Right Hand
The Ship Song
Into My Arms
Shoot Me Down
Girl in Amber
Jubilee Street
The Weeping Song
Stagger Lee
Push the Sky Away

City of Refuge
The Mercy Seat
Rings of Saturn

photos by Ester Segretto

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