Royal Concert Hall, Nottingham
Touring songs from lockdown album Carnage and the grief-stricken Ghosteen, Cave and Ellis draw the audience headfirst into a maelstrom of emotions
Is it normal to approach a concert by a much-loved artist with as much dread as anticipation? Nick Cave and his close collaborator Warren Ellis are touring songs drawn from Carnage – the haunting and visceral album the two made during lockdown – and from 2019’s Ghosteen, a Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds record like no other. Masks, it turns out, make excellent and discreet handkerchiefs.
Tonight, the optics suggest business as usual for an artist into his fourth decade of performing. Cave is both suave and insectoid in a dark suit. Ellis is the medieval-looking figure seated on his right on electronics, violin and flute, also suited and booted as though to disguise his real form. The two are all joints and sinew, as though consumed by the demands of the hungry-ghost music of their collaborations. To the rear is multi-instrumentalist Frenchman Johnny Hostile; three backing vocalists – T Jae Cole, Janet Rasmus and Wendi Rose – add oceanic sighs and celestial wallop to the set.