NICK CAVE performs in Tel Aviv in 2017. (photo credit: ORIT PNINI)
NICK CAVE performs in Tel Aviv in 2017. (photo credit: ORIT PNINI)
Nick Cave, the high priest of rock & roll, to shine in Israel return
 

After pandemic-induced postponements and personal tragedies, it appears that the stars have finally aligned to enable Nick Cave to return to Israel.

Either the world’s most popular cult artist or its most anonymous superstar, the 64-year-old Australian singer-songwriter has inherited the crown from Leonard Cohen as the high priest of rock & roll.

Through some 20-odd albums, beginning with 1984’s From Her to Eternity – most with his versatile band The Bad Seeds – and a reputation as a live performer that rivals Bruce Springsteen in his ability to viscerally connect with an audience, Cave’s shadowy ballads and bombastic rockers set him apart from every other contemporary performer. 

One reviewer described him as “an incredible hybrid of Reservoir Dogs’ gangster, demented preacher… and phantasmagoric Messiah.”

“He immediately takes control of the auditorium, stalking the boards and its outer perimeters like a man possessed, and his seismic grip on the occasion does not loosen thereafter not for one single solitary moment.”

A reviewer about Nick Cave

“He immediately takes control of the auditorium, stalking the boards and its outer perimeters like a man possessed, and his seismic grip on the occasion does not loosen thereafter not for one single solitary moment.”

 Nick Cave, the high priest of rock & roll (credit: MATT THORNE) Nick Cave, the high priest of rock & roll (credit: MATT THORNE)

Over the last four years, he’s been away from the stage, but has released a live album and concert film Idiot Prayer (2020), a music documentary This Much I Know to Be True (Andrew Dominik, 2022), and two studio albums – 2019’s Ghosteen and last year’s Carnage, his first duet with longtime Bad Seeds collaborator Warren Ellis.

His 37-date world tour, which includes next week’s show at Rishon Lezion LivePark on August 23, was originally scheduled for 2019. According to reports from the road, the forced layoff has made Cave – still sporting a shock of black hair and a dark suit like a ghoulish undertaker – even more animated onstage

AT A RECENT date in Berlin, Cave and The Bad Seeds opened up with “Get Ready for Love,” a rouser from 2009’s Abbatoir Blues. A reviewer for PopMatters described “a maniacal Cave descending straight onto his flock, grabbing random hands and screaming ‘Praise him!!!’ as the front rows bunch up toward him as if in a trance… Melodic carnage, transcendental lyrics, cathartic delivery of immeasurable intensity, and an aura of divine communion between Him and his flock can be expected and delivered.”

Israelis love Nick Cave

Cave’s fans in Israel are equally fervent, especially after his last appearance here in 2017 at two sold-out shows at the Menorah Mivtavim arena (one of which was attended by Coldplay frontman Chris Martin).

His first time back in Israel since the ’90s when he was a frequent visitor, was a musical/spiritual/religious experience for the ages. One that’s hard to describe… and forget. The electricity in the arena was at extra-high voltage from start to finish. And the troubadour-cum-singer leveraged the atmosphere to captivate his audience like only Cave can, casting a hypnotic spell on every attendee from the get-go. 

Accompanied by the outstanding Bad Seeds, Cave enthralled the crowd with one powerful, heart-wrenching song after another for two straight hours, which for some seemed like a lifetime.

Playing primarily from his two latest albums at the time, Push the Sky Away and Skeleton Tree, Cave embodied what it’s like for an artist to be “in touch” with the audience. He spent huge portions of the show in the midst of a sea of screaming devoted followers, reaching out and touching their hands in a priest-like fashion.

And if we’re on the subject of priests, it would be remiss not to mention the influence that the late Cohen had over Cave. A younger Cave wrote in his poem “The Sick Bag Song” that after he found Cohen’s Songs of Love and Hate album and listened to “Avalanche,” things were never quite the same.

Among the many other influences that shaped Cave are a who’s who of musical genius and greatness – David Bowie, Nina Simone and Johnny Cash – along with two other members of the tribe renowned for their way with words and songs, Bob Dylan and Lou Reed.

Nick Cave stands strong against BDS

Of course, another reason for Israelis to love Cave is his unflinching stance against the BDS movement. Unlike other artists who demurely slip in under the radar or meekly mutter about playing for the people and not the government, Cave has been militant against those who would deem to impose restrictions on him about where he can perform.

“I rang up my people and said, ‘We’re doing a European tour and Israel.’”

Nick Cave

“I rang up my people and said, ‘We’re doing a European tour and Israel’,” Cave proudly announced prior to his previous visit.

That steadfast individualism and rugged dedication to his art have remained constants throughout Cave’s career. The mutual love affair between him and his Israeli disciples will likely only grow stronger when he returns next week to the part of the world where miracles have been known to take place.



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