Performing together as a duo of creative souls and close friends, the combination of Nick Cave and Warren Ellis in concert provide a transcendent look into the mechanics of redemption.
By John Lavitt
Los Angeles, CA (The Hollywood Times) 3/16/22 – Following releases of GHOSTEEN with the Bad Seeds and CARNAGE as a duo, Nick Cave and Warren Ellis decided to go out on the road together to the delight of their fans. After a run of phenomenal shows across the UK and Europe in the Fall of 2021, the two master musicians have brought the tour to the United States. On March 9th and March 10th, they played back-to-back shows at the Shrine Auditorium and The Orpheum Theatre in Los Angeles. Focusing mainly on tracks from the latest work, the cathartic joy expressed in these performances was something to behold. The close friends love being together and celebrating their passion for music and performance.
During the European leg of the tour, Nick cave wrote to his fans on his website The Red Hand Files, “Playing these concerts is pure happiness, more than I have experienced in a very long time. I cannot tell you what it means to Warren and me to walk out on stage and perform the songs.” Although Nick Cave and Warren Ellis play together with the Bad Seeds, these performances were different. It was as if they did not care how an audience might respond because all they could focus on was the joy of live creation. They did not need to care because the audience was more than happy to come along for the ride without question. Indeed, both nights expressed the power of musical performance as a transcendent force.
As a long-term member of Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Warren Ellis has played with Nick Cave since 1993. However, created as a duo, CARNAGE is the first full album of songs released. With a long history of creating music as both collaborators and individual artists, the two creators have worked on numerous film and TV scores. Also, since 2006, they performed together in Grinderman.
There is undeniable magic when they perform together. Hence, it feels like Nick Cave welcomes the companionship and finds solace in the presence of Warren Ellis. Since Warren focuses exclusively on the music’s primal energy, it allows Nick to access his deeper instincts that dive into the depths of his vision. Such a deep dive generates a sense of profound catharsis during the performances. Jarringly beautiful with naked lyrics and celestial arrangements, the graceful brutality of the music from CARNAGE interrogates profound questions. Nick and Warren ask how a human being can continue living in the shadow of grief and how we can find meaning amidst the grim and unforgiving countenance of loss.
On stage at both the Shrine Auditorium and the Orpheum Theatre, you could feel the evolution of Nick Cave as a human being over the past decade. Through tragedy and suffering, catharsis and redemption, the man has evolved into one of the coolest prophets ever to grace a stage. Backed by the confidence of artistry and friendship, this is a performer in the seat of his power. The entire show feels like a battle against entropy and the simple reality that things fall apart, and everything ends in the end. Thus, the show celebrates the value of affirmation, the power of a fleeting performance and a song, as pure affirmation beyond the weight of expectation.
Watching Nick Cave and Warren Ellis perform is like being in a tidal flow of artistic communication. In reality, there are no promises offered by the universe, and there are no bargains to be made. Thus, falling apart is a part of artistry because it is the very essence of being human and mortal. In the numeric screams of Warren Ellis as each song begins, this point of battling against nothing beyond a moment of love is expressed without remorse or apology. There is no darkness where we cannot go if we go together. We may not survive, and we won’t survive, but our love will last until the door closes.
Photos by Jim Pascoe