Life, love, sorrow, the music through which we channel our emotions and our life experiences were discussed during this evening at Harpa at the event aptly named ‘Conversations with Nick Cave’. It felt very much like an intimate and connected affair, innovative in nature and not something we have experienced before. Although Harpa was packed with fans of the iconic Mr Cave, it felt very much as if it was just you and him.
A part of his world tour originating in his native Australia some time ago this format proved to be a way of communicating with the fans in a personal and direct way. He has been touring Europe and now in the midst of a US tour, continuing next year with more dates in Germany, The Netherlands and Belgium.
In a way, this is a continuation of what was started via his website The Red Hand Files where his followers pose questions, which he personally answers with the most beautiful and intelligent thought-provoking words. His answers often help the reader think and explore situations that may or may not be of a personal nature to them. It’s a fascinating website packed with inspiring images and quotes and well worth a subscription.
The set lit at Harpa, and not knowing what to expect from this soiree, is part of the excitement. It's grand, it's all red lights and atmospheric, just what you would want to feel and see. Then, as the lights begin to shine a little brighter we see a low shadow reflecting on the piano, almost vampiric and we begin to hear the haunting voice reciting a beautiful song. Slowly we are in the presence of enigmatic figure, the man himself, The Bad Seeds frontman who has for many decades created songs, which sound like living poems, although when asked the question if he considered himself a poet, he replied that he was a songwriter and definitely not a poet.
Tonight's open floor questions and answers feel very much like a play, members of the audience sharing stage with the performer, where everyone is invited to participate, Nick Cave's welcomed guests. With his quest for clarity, truth, emotions with at times funny anecdotes, moved and engaged the audience through words and music. Exposed to unexpected questions he is revealing so much about himself, with musical interludes sitting at the piano, his singing is like a velvet whisper, immediate and intimate. Listening to Leonard Cohen’s Avalanche (the first song he loved) and The Mercy Seat takes your breath away. The versions of Brompton Oratory, Into My Arms from 1997 and The Boatman’s Call is go a long way towards triggering an emotional avalanche.
‘I think the rock star, you got to be able to see from a distance,’ said Cave in his 2014 dramatised documentary 20,000 Days on Earth. ‘It’s something you can draw in one line: They have got to be godlike’. Indeed, we saw him like that, enigmatic, fascinating, charismatic and shining bright from afar, yet almost close enough to be able to touch.