Nick Cave of today is not the Nick Cave of the past.
Eschewing the brooding nature one might expect from the Bad Seeds frontman, the 62-year-old unexpectedly proved to be an affable comedian at the University of Toronto’s Convocation Hall on September 28.
Entitled Conversations with Nick Cave, the series of talks – now having spanned continents – combined the look of an intimate concert with with connectedness of group therapy. The effect was immediate, funny, and electrifying.
Dressed in a three-piece suit, the tall and slim Australian rocker embraced death and humour head-on, opening his heart to fans as an impetus for discussion on life itself.
With huge applause greeting him upon entry, Cave briskly seated himself at the grand piano illuminated by spotlight, commencing the show with God Is In The House.
Upon completion, the main lights came up initiating an open Q&A. Here, fans were encouraged to participate by microphones being passed around. Clocking in at three hours, what ensued was deep, yet unprecedented, insight into Cave’s mind of philosophy and music.
In fact, the emotional shift of the evening’s proceedings reflected the untimely death of his young son Arthur in 2015. Since then, Cave has felt the need to talk with his fans anywhere and everywhere, taking questions on any subject: From grief, past romances, former bandmates, and his friendship with late-INXS singer Michael Hutchence.
Given the tiresome adoration by some in attendance, Cave’s honest thoughts about songwriting, morality, and stage nerves nevertheless proved engrossing, “I thought I had dispensed with the dread of performing long ago, until I started doing these talks.”
As for the musical portion of the event, he obliged many requests, playing Into My Arms, Jubilee Street, Girl in Amber, Brompton Oratory, The Mercy Seat and many others fan favourites.
Speaking often about tragedy but not emphasizing it, the night’s most poignant moment came when he confessed to talking with his deceased son Arthur every day. “To perform on stage with him by my side, all fears disappear. Nothing can go wrong because the worst has already happened.”