Wednesday, June 18, 2003

Concert Recommendations: Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Chicago Theatre; Cinerama, Abbey Pub, Saturday, June 21

My interest in both these artists are the result of personal recommendations. I spent the summer of '88 in London with a boom box and very few cassettes. As a result, I relied heavily on the musical tastes of the strangers with whom I moved in. My roommate, also American, brought along a trove of Warren Zevon tapes. Another flatmate, a musician himself, was a huge fan of Nick Cave. When I returned to the States, I followed up on their musical interests and was turned into a fan of both myself. I was so enthralled by Nick Cave the first time I saw him that I considered driving from Philly to Washington to see the next show on the tour.

Cinerama also has a concerts-in-D.C. connection. In the fall of 1988, I drove down to D.C. to see the Godfathers, who didn't have a Philly show on that leg of their tour. While waiting in line for the last few tickets, I befriended a British guy who was a Congressional intern. He advocated checking out the Wedding Present. I figured anyone who was as into the Godfathers as I had reliable musical taste. So I went to see them when they came to the U.S. the following year. As with Nick Cave, I was immediately enthralled and have been a fan of head Weddo David Gedge ever since. Gedge put that band on hold in 1997 to form Cinerama.

Nick Cave in concert is the personification of intensity. He sings of intertwined love, pain and death as if he were experiencing their throes at that very instant. His world is a mythologized version of the American south as portrayed in traditional blues and folk song, gone through the filter of a reluctant founder of goth.

David Gedge is the consummate love song writer. With both the Buzzcocks-inspired Wedding Present and more melodic, orchestral Cinerama, he shows off an impressive ear for conversational lyrics and an ability to capture the precise emotions in romances, such as the instant of giving in to temptation or the moment of regret when discovering that a new lover has a boyfriend. Cinerama's recorded arrangements may fall near the edge of twee, but he still attempts to saw his guitar in half just with furious strumming in concert. More recent Cinerama tours have also included some Wedding Present selections.

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds play the Chicago Theatre, 175 N. State St., Chicago, at 8 p.m. Cinerama plays the Abbey Pub, 3420 W. Grace, Chicago, 773.478.4408, with Parker and Lily and Head of Femur at 10 p.m. Both shows are Saturday, June 21.

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