The Warfield, San Francisco
November 29, 2010
On another November 29th MANY years ago, Umlaut was at this show:
Trivia: It was Metallica's first headlining show in San Francisco and Exodus with a baby-faced Kirk Hammett opened the night. Fast forward to the 21st Century and I found myself seeing Nick Cave grace The Warfield's stage for the 9th time; previously I'd seen Nick at The Warfield in 1990, 1992, 1998 (2 nights), 2002, 2003, 2008 (2 nights). So, yeah, I have ALOT of Music Geek history with Nick.
Three years ago Grinderman played a mere FOUR shows in North America and TWO of them were CLUB shows in San Francisco. It was AMAZING.... Click HERE to read Umlaut's reaction to those pair of special nights. To be honest, I haven't really gotten into the new Grinderman album compared to how enamored I was with the first album 3 years ago. However, I was more than ready to witness the new songs live since that's where Nick is best... and I was hoping the new songs would win me over onstage.
The band swaggered out from the darkness of stage left and launched into the new opener 'Mickey Mouse and the Goodbye Man'... and Cave immediately charged to the lip of the stage and I knew right away it was going to be a great night. According to the Umlaut Archives this was my 18th (!) time seeing Nick live. It was like seeing an old friend again.
Nick was in full blown swagger and he was on a par with some of the best performances that I've seen in years past. I was glad to see that he has shaved off the 70's porn star moustache of 3 years ago and he worked the stage in that bad ass way that only he can. Part Preacher... Part Rock Star... All Bad Ass Motherfucker. It's funny to think of Grinderman as Nick's "side project" when the rest of the band are in his band the Bad Seeds. It's not much different seeing Jim Sclavunos on drums and Martin Casey on bass... but Warren Ellis is a whole new demon in Grinderman than he is with the Bad Seeds and his own band the Dirty Three. Remember when Warren was sort of that dorky Australian guy who told funny stories onstage with Dirty Three while wearing an AC/DC shirt?? Me too... In recent years I've been both fascinated and a bit concerned by Warren's transformation from the dorky intellectual of Dirty Three into the bearded, multi-instrumentalist mad scientist that he is with Grinderman and the Bad Seeds.
The 90 minute set was fairly balanced between songs from the first Grinderman album and new songs. The band were ferocious... They were inspiring... They were badass. Grinderman were exactly the band I needed to see at this point in my year. The new song 'Palaces of Montezuma' was like a Bob Dylan anthem that I've been wanting to hear again for the first time; I found myself completely caught up in the song... which was cool because I'd ignored it when listening to the new album. On the flipside 'What I Know' is one of the worst songs Nick has ever done IMO; it just seems too forced trying to be lyrically clever. However, even Nick's "bad" songs are better than most others' "good" songs... but I still liked the songs from the first album more tonight. Those first Grinderman songs have that extra bit of badass that puts them over the top... 'No Pussy Blues'... 'Get It On'... 'Honey Bee'. Nick dedicated 'Honey Bee' to someone name Tara Jane who he's dedicated songs to at shows in the past. What a lucky girl, right?
I've been going to way too many Metal shows recently and feeling burned out and jaded about most Metal bands. Thankfully, leave it to my hero Nick Cave to revive my faith in music and the live music experience. Nick is the only musician who I've followed blindly over the years since I first discovered him back in 1989. I still buy all of his releases and see him live even when I haven't liked what he's created... but in the end Nick has always won me over. As I said earlier, it was like seeing an old friend again.
To bring this November 29th full circle with my past, evidently Kirk Hammett was in the house tonight as well. Metal Militia! As a friend later observed, I was doing the same thing tonight as I was doing exactly 28 years (!) ago: Seeing a concert. Hope I die before I get old.
If you bought one of every Grinderman merch item you would have paid around $250. For such an artistic and intellectual guy, Nick has always had THE WORST tour shirt designs; this tour was no exception. On the way back to the car, some pimply-faced teenagers called us fags. Man, I'm ready to ditch alot of the Metal bands that I've been listening to and going to see lately. They just bore the shit out of me... We'll see how this plays out.
Click HERE to see Photo Ray's shots from the night!