Monday, October 06, 2014

Nick Cave and a Piano

The lights dim and the audience claps.

Directors take the stage and explain how the evening will go. Mr. Cave will come on stage. He will take questions and requests. He will have about 90 minutes to sit there with him as he answers questions and describes his process.

The directors would also answer some questions.

Interns were issued into the audience to take questions and requests from us.

And then Nick Cave came onto the stage and sat down at the piano. Which was really all any of us needed.

At first there were a smattering of questions, mostly from the directors thanking him for the film, etc. Asking him how he was, his experience with New York, etc. We mostly ignored him.

Nick Cave played with the keys on the piano. And then launched into "The Weeping Song."

The audience was transfixed. Nick Cave completely stripped down to nothing but his voice and the piano is an absolute experience. The lyrics and key changes are pasted to lyrics cards that are tagged to a black poster board. Nick selects the board and places it on the piano to keep him on point as he moves there.

There are a number of questions.

Some uninteresting: “What’s it like being a performer?” which he basically refuses to answer.

Some, too pointed and too personal “What kind of music do your boys like?” “I’ve promised my boys I will not discuss their lives in public.”

Most of the questions would have been in some way answered by the film, but there were still a few that were interesting and allowed for a kind of insight into Cave that were fascinating.

One related to the construction of a song and the life of the song to which the response was fascinating. For Cave some songs have certainly evolved over time, developing and changing, like "No More Shall We Part," which has gone from lighter to darker over the years in different ways. The songs themselves feel like the decide who they are, and just like anyone else, over time, on stage, as they are played, they grow different. I found this a fascinating perspective and one that made me even more interested in Cave’s live performances to see the difference in songs as they progress over the years. I can imagine that many others feel this way as well.

Another question related to the music that he wished he had written. This tossed him back to his childhood, not that his family life was bad or haunted, but that the city he lived in was one that made it feel like there was no future. This was something I could certainly relate to.

The album that defined those years and made him feel like there was more to life was one by Leonard Cohen. Songs of Love and Hate. We were treated with a Nick Cave cover of "Avalanche" which was absolutely perfect.

The entire thing was a mix of Nick Cave and ballads; he owned the piano and we were happy to let him guide us through a tour of songs. The audience yelled out all sorts of things, but Cave played really only what he wanted to play. It was perfect.

The show ended with a final question, which was why Nick Cave was giving away one of his typewriters (a prize theoretically being sent off to some twitter person that wasn’t actually there.” The exchange was pretty amusing.

Girl “Why would you give away something of such value, that is clearly so important to you?” (The typewriter was featured prominently in the film.)

Cave: “To be honest when they asked me for it I didn’t know they were giving the fucking thing away. So, no, you can’t have it.”

In the end, when the director asked Cave to pick the best of the “Twitter questions” he just negated the entire thing and declared the typewriter belong to the girl who asked about it, and so she walked out with the most coveted and beautiful of blue typewriters.

The rest of us got to go home with our memories. It was worth it.

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