God is in the House

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – God is in the House (DVD)

Nick Cave’s always gonna be an underground artist. His performance name (Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds) is viral enough to get into the minds of a much wider audience than that reached by his actual music. I have to admit to being part of that demographic – my first Seeds record was Murder Ballads, and through my experience with that album I believe that Nick Cave is someone whose image differs widely from his identity.
I’ve been disappointed by almost everything I’ve heard from Cave, save for maybe twenty-five songs from here and there across his career (mostly where Blixa Bargeld got to unbalance the composition, and maybe that shows up some of my leanings or prejudices), so I really wanted this combination promo, live and documentary DVD to open my eyes.
It didn’t.
I watched the videos first, and they are all culled from No More Shall We Part, an album the title of which Cave himself has trouble remembering, so I moved on, nonplussed.
The documentary has an interesting hands-off, letting the footage speak for itself style but again the album being documented is shit and the players reflect this in their affected boredom, demeanour and tantrums.
The concert sums up, for me, the Cave experience: none of the performances have finesse, apart from Mick Harvey, the eternal sideman. Blixa is standing there bored and uninterested throughout the entire show. Nick can’t really cut the singing, his stage presence is small but really the focus is on his lyrics.
And that’s the kicker – the songs here are strong but only Warren Ellis the violinist looks even vaguely interested and Nick can’t even remember the lyrics to the only song he performs from Murder Ballads, ironically his best-selling album and one that broke him with help from Kylie Minogue.

So yeah, I’m not really impressed by what I’d hoped would be an insightful document. Well, I suppose it is insightful, I just don’t like what I’m seeing.
I’ve read recently reviews of Nick Cave’s newest release, Abattoir Blues/The Lyre of Orpheus, hailing him as “a man who had secured his
place among the greatest and most respected of living songwriters” (Salon.com), and having heard his new album I’ll second that because ultimately Nick Cave is someone whose image differs widely from his identity, and up to this point I’ve been hung up on the image of the man, a false image.