The evening began with Nick’s support act, the beguiling Shilpa Ray. She squeezed her harmonium as if she were nursing a punctured lung and her singing morphed between melody and anguished wailing. She was frothing at the mouth and tears welled up in her eyes.
Many folk in the audience talked amongst themselves, although I found myself sucked in, wondering what her story might be, her demons? By the time she said she was going to perform one last song, that she didn’t give a shit if we liked it or not, I’d decided she was, surely, the perfect support act to set the scene for Cave.
Her performance was a kind of emotional leprosy. I liked her. This lady was asking for some healing and the audience wanted some too…
The Healer came in the form of the demonic snake-oil salesman and his Bad Seeds. An unholy preacher caressing his demons, a man who has been to Hell and come back to deliver us. We were waiting at the gates.
He appeared suddenly on stage, skinny as always, immaculate black suit. Cave is grotesque yet beautiful at once. A uniquely inky charisma, no-one could take their eyes off him.
The Seeds began with the lead single, We No Who U R, from their latest album Push the Sky Away. Its melody lured us in a way that was reminiscent of Robert Mitchum’s Leaning in Night of the Hunter. So we knew there was bedlam to follow. I was mesmerised.
They performed a hypnotic selection of material, the audience swelling then receding in synch. Yet the set list was irrelevant to me, as they have such a vast repertoire and I like it all. I was here to be entertained by the myth, the back story, as well as the music. At the end, we were treated to an encore of another four songs, I think, after the customary foot stomping. Cave is a first class showman, the musicianship of his band is outstanding and this was Halloween theatre in Glasgow’s most atmospheric music venue.
Copyright © 2013 Marion McGunnigle