Keeping the audience at a distance is not exactly Nick Cave's style so I was very curious to see how an Austin City Limits taping was going to go down leading up to the show. Walking in to the venue one of the most notable differences about this taping was the stage set up. Instead of the set up with cameras up front like a traditional television show there were pillars leading out into the crowd and the cameras set up in the back of the audience. Obviously Mr. Cave was not going to compromise on the strongest asset of his live performance and I seized the opportunity to plant myself by one of those pillars knowing that it would be prime real estate once the performance began.
The band entered the stage with the brooding "We Real Cool", one of the few somber moments of the evening. From there they burst to life with "Tupelo" which lead to Cave running from each side of the stage and from there it didn't let up. The term preacher is often used to describe Cave and it is with good reason. Once the performance took off it didn't matter if you were a die hard fan or someone that scored a ticket and wanted to check it out, you were all in. His performance is captivating and he has more charisma than his brooding reputation would suggest. Cave's enthusiasm is fueled by the audience and he yelled for the seated portion of the crowd to join him on more than one occasion going so far as to call them a "lazy fuckers". He had no plans to censor himself for the taping like some artists tend to do and that was most apparent when he moved on to "Stagger Lee" which is not exactly the kind of song you would see on public television and apparently caused some of the older folks in the crowd to call it a night.
It didn't matter by then because the rest of the crowd was worked up and easily one of the most energetic I have ever seen at a taping. Around the 90 min mark Cave finished with the beautiful title track off his latest "Push The Sky Away" and with that the night ended in the brooding manner it began and the man was gone. An encore was expected when the stage crew began to set up for one but those hopes were quickly dashed and the house lights came up. You will be able to watch this epic performance this fall when Austin City Limits kicks off it's 40th season.
Set List: Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds - Austin City Limits
We Real Cool
Red Right Hand
From Her To Eternity
God Is In The House
Higgs Boson Blues
The Mercy Seat
Push The Sky Away