Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds’ last album ‘Skeleton Tree’ was the sound of pure turmoil. Cave, singing songs written before the traumatic death of his son but recorded in the wake of it, was audibly crumbling. How he would fare on the subsequent tour was anyone’s guess – but this concert film isn’t what you might expect.
Cave and the band are on the form of their lives in Copenhagen’s old Royal Arena, and at 143 minutes, this doc isn’t for the faint-hearted. Gig director David Barnard clearly had hundreds of cameras at his disposal, sticking them everywhere except the loos. He focuses on the audience as much as the stars – pointedly so.
Music’s healing power fires off rays in all directions. Cave often looks like a healer himself, swooping about among the front-row faithful, a shaman in a sea of desperately reaching, lit-up hands. During a tender ‘Into My Arms’ the crowd becomes a 15,000-strong choir. On ‘Stagger Lee’, he invites many of them on to the stage while he howls his heart out, and they follow suit, like a mass exorcism. Above and beyond all of this spiritual energy, though, we get sheer musical cojones. Cave is not flagging. He is charged. The show must go on.