LIVE: Nick Cave

The Aussie does Fawlty and Elvis.

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Not since Little Richard was in his prime has a grand piano received quite the same vigorous pounding as it does from Nick Cave at this rammed show. An evening of stripped-back arrangements featuring a small contingent of Bad Seeds, this set begins sedately enough but builds into an orgy of carnal grind and unruly passion. Exit light, enter night.

At 57, Cave remains an electrifying stage presence, even if he increasingly foregrounds the comic and erotic undertones in his songs over the bloodthirsty mania that defined his early career. Initially seated at his Steinway, he cannot stay grounded for long. First his arms begin flailing, then he starts pinballing around. Before long he is on audience walkabout, flirting and leering and crotch-grinding. Part Vegas crooner, part ageing gigolo, part Basil Fawlty. The crowd lap it up.

Piano versions of old standards – The Weeping Song and The Mercy Seat – sound a little too restrained, but Jubilee Street glistens and throbs with unspoken menace. On the centrifugal bluespunk howlers Jack The Ripper and Up Jumped The Devil, Cave proves he can still summon that old black magic, channelling the salacious hellhound voodoo spirit of Robert Johnson, Screaming Jay Hawkins and Jerry Lee Lewis. A tender encore cover of Leonard Cohen’s Avalanche helps restore a modicum of post-coital calm, but the Albert Hall is still reeling from a powerhouse shafting. Elvis has shagged the building.

Stephen Dalton

Stephen Dalton has been writing about all things rock for more than 30 years, starting in the late Eighties at the New Musical Express (RIP) when it was still an annoyingly pompous analogue weekly paper printed on dead trees and sold in actual physical shops. For the last decade or so he has been a regular contributor to Classic Rock magazine. He has also written about music and film for Uncut, Vox, Prog, The Quietus, Electronic Sound, Rolling Stone, The Times, The London Evening Standard, Wallpaper, The Film Verdict, Sight and Sound, The Hollywood Reporter and others, including some even more disreputable publications.