I got the new Grinderman (aka Nick Cave and a new band) and it’s good, but also sad.
I saw Nick Cave in concert in Providence, RI, around 1988, and then again in Boston a few months later. He was incredible then. Just fresh off the Your Funeral, My Trial trail and with a band that included the inimitable Blixa Bargeld on guitar and the brilliant Mick Harvey, the shows were positively electric. Lights blinked on and off, red and yellow and white, pounding drums. Nick Cave commanded the fucking stage, his slicked back hair and lit cigarette flying everwhere. Girls were going mad at these concerts for him and the guys I knew would just die to be him, even for a day. He built his entire character on the backs of Johnny Cash, Leonard Cohen, William Blake, James Dean and a hundred other romantics, Nick Cave in his thin, black suits and ties just rocked.
Can you tell that I adored him and the Bad Seeds? I did. He told the dirty truth about a dirty world and a dirty mind and, for someone with a poetically romantic bent, Nick Cave bent sinister.
I lived in London in 1990 and I, somehow, got tickets to see him there. That was a truly remarkable concert, part of his The Good Son tour.
Now, with Grinderman, Cave looks old. His eyes are sunken, his hair is thin, his wrinkles are pronounced. He looks like hell – the tobacco and drugs and drink evidently haven taken their toll. And the new songs are desparate, dispairing, grotesque even. One song, “No Pussy Blues,” is particularly impactful. There’s a bad interview with Cave in Salon that’s worth reading, if, for nothing else, getting a sense of where the guy is at, currently (but don’t listen to the young, naive interviewer make a fool of himself in front of Cave on the podcast). Here’s an excerpt:
Look, when I’m alone and writing there are all sorts of influences — feminine and masculine influences, memories and ghosts of the past, all that stuff — having an impact on what I write. With Grinderman, most of it, I’m stuck in a room with four guys in the middle of a fucking monumental midlife crisis. It’s a male thing. It’s an old man kind of thing. I think there’s really something kind of hysterical in the music that’s a reflection of that.
Look, Nick Cave is old. He’s the musical acknowledgement of our age.
Postscript. Found on YouTube: