Nick Cave and Warren Ellis

Brighton Dome Concert Hall, October 10 2021

Nick Cave is arguably at a career-high peak right now. Some might miss the anarchy of The Birthday Party, the anger of the Bad Seeds in the ‘Tender Prey’ era, or the more traditional songcraft of ‘The Boatman’s Call’.

But the last decade’s run of albums has seen the louder rock elements fade into the background, with intertwining synth and piano often more prominent.

2021’s ‘Carnage’ is Cave’s first album with Warren Ellis as a duo, rather than as collaborators on movie scores, in the Bad Seeds, or the Grinderman project.

It’s a sparse, gorgeous record filled with bass loops, skittering energy and gothic ballads. On stage, multi-instrumentalist Johnny Hostile and singers Wendi Rose, T Jae Cole and Janet Ramus brought the songs to life, creating a more fiery, richer sound.

Their soulful harmonies with Cave and Ellis were stunning, and the set saw a wide range of voices, with Cave and Ellis in falsetto at times, and Cave also doing his usual bass crooning and snarling rock vocals.

Alongside playing most of ‘Carnage’, the set also featured a host of songs from 2019’s ‘Ghosteen’, meaning that Ellis’ synth was very high in the mix for most of the evening: a glorious and enveloping wash of keys, tones and strings that dominated the sound of the whole evening.

Ellis also shone while duetting with Cave, playing vivid, mellifluous violin during a ‘Cosmic Dancer’ cover.

Cave is always an entertaining host, and here the mood felt like a post-lockdown celebration.

He enjoyed chatting to the crowd and prancing about the stage, upsetting the event team with flung microphones, and laughing at a silly call-and-response with the balcony during ‘Balcony Man’.

The beautiful, confident, generous 140 minute set from a true rock star was triumphant, and rapturously received with standing ovations leading to two encores. Unforgettable.

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