“Thank you, photographers,” says Nick Cave to the snappers in the pit in front of the stage, pointing to his right cheek. “Only print the ones from this side of my face.” It’s a rare moment of light-hearted banter, although he does later decline a punter’s song request, claiming the track in question has “too many chords for old men like us!”. It would appear he and The Bad Seeds are a little fatigued, after promoting Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!! for the best part of 18 months, but they’ve still got just about enough in the tank to bring Latitude to a memorably electrifying close.
Cave is, of course, no stranger to Latitude, having menaced leafy Suffolk with Grinderman last summer, and tonight he’s compensating for not even glancing at the Bad Seeds catalogue on his last visit. An opening “Tupelo” sets the tone for what’s to follow, a dizzying ride that veers between Biblical terrors, regretful murderers, unrepentant jailbirds, and tender lovers administering to broken hearts with bourbon and sulphur.
“The Ship Song” triggers an emotional swaying right across the Obelisk arena, as the sun takes its final bow behind the trees, and “Red Right Hand” reaffirms its claim to be the most disturbing audience singalong of all time. “We Call Upon The Author To Explain” is just terrifying, all scowling choruses and sky-shredding feedback that must have spooked whatever reader had the misfortune to be on stage at the literature tent on the other side of the site during those fearsome five minutes. Oh yes, they would most definitely had heard it…
Cave looks as dapper as ever, although he’s dispensed with the Zapata ‘tache of the last couple of years, and special mention should go to the visual counterpoint provided by his hirsute gimp foil Warren Ellis, with whom he indulges in the now traditional mock stage scraps, played out to the runaway train charge of the Bad Seeds with a boiler full of coal.
We’re denied an encore, despite it being another half-hour before curfew, perhaps an indication that tiredness and touring has taken its toll on the players. Briefer than usual, but brilliant as always. Nick should now allow himself the rest he’s long overdue, then get cracking on another album, before making his way back here next year to complete a triumphant hat-trick of Latitude glory.
Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!
Red Right Hand
The Ship Song
We Call Upon The Author
The Mercy Seat
There She Goes, My Beautiful World
The Weeping Song
Papa Don’t Leave You, Henry