Music 2005 – Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Alexandra Palace, London

Thursday, 25th August 2005 – Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds

Some of you will know just how much I was looking forward to seeing Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds last night. That’ll teach me.

I will never, ever go to another gig at the Alexandra Palace. It’s completely unsuitable for the purpose, and you will end up feeling ripped off as the promoters make no effort whatsoever to ensure you have a good evening. Rather, they just want to cream off as much money as possible, while providing seriously minimal comfort for everyone involved. Let’s start with the hall itself. It’s large and flat-floored. Last night this meant that unless you made your way to the front when the doors opened (at 18.00) and then stood for over three hours withstanding the assault of two unnamed but dreadful support acts, you’d no chance of seeing anything at all.

It’s fair to say I’d waited five years to get a chance to see the band, and now it’s all over I’m still waiting. Sure the light show was pretty and the sound was good, but frankly we could have got the same effect by lighting coloured lights at home and playing the CDs on the home cinema system. Needless to say, we’d also be richer by £60 plus the expense involved in getting to the show. Oh, and I would have been able to drink a decent glass of wine rather than the Merlot of unspecified origin that I could feel stripping the enamel off my teeth as I drank it. Alternatively, Lynne could have had some cider that had been chilled properly (thus not requiring the addition of ice cubes) and that didn’t cost £3.00 for a third of a litre.

Of course, we’d also have been able to sit down while we drank, rather than having to find a ledge to perch on. Otherwise, you could sit on the floor (if you didn’t mind getting your clothes filthy).

Anyway, at about 21.00 the band finally emerged, and Lynne and I wandered through to try and find somewhere where we could stand and actually see anything. OK, I’m 5′ 8″ so I’m not that tall but I’m not short. By standing in a corner at the back of the hall I could just about make out the heads of the backing singers, and I got the occasional glimpse of Nick Cave’s shadow on the wall at the far side. I couldn’t tell you how many people were on the stage, what they were wearing or even what instruments they were playing. We could see the lights projected on the back wall, and we could hear. Hence my earlier comment that we’d have been better off staying home with our CDs.

It wouldn’t have been beyond the wit of the promoters to get a camera or two and project footage of what was happening on stage on that back wall, instead of a bunch of swirly lights. Maybe, they could even have built the stage a little higher so those of us who didn’t get there till after 7 could have seen something for our money. They didn’t bother doing either of those things. And if I couldn’t see much, Lynne (who is a little under 5 feet tall) couldn’t see anything.

We stuck it for about 30 minutes, then decided we were so pissed off we’d leave. At 22.00 we were driving down Highgate, and about 5 minutes after we were in Sabor do Brasil with a caipirinha in front of us and a vatapa on order. It went some way towards salvaging a deeply disappointing evening. In comparison with the Ian Hunter gig at the Astoria earlier this Summer, it was night and day difference. There, you could sit down and still see the stage, and I felt engaged and involved. Last night (at twice the price – £25.00 a head instead of £13.00) I saw fuck all and felt completely disconnected.

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