Australian rocker Nick Cave, who was at one point the lead singer of the mercilessly brutal band The Birthday Party, has mellowed considerably. There is no greater indication of this than the Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds DVD God Is In The House, a live concert filmed in Lyon, France in the summer of 2001, one that is disappointingly sedate.
This new found quietude should not be mistaken for lack of inspiration, as first-rate albums like The Boatman’s Call and No More Shall We Part can attest to. But the live performance suffers greatly, primarily due to cinematography that is precise, reverential, and overwhelmingly lifeless.
But that is not to say the band itself is blameless. Though Cave is fun to watch as he wanders around the stage franticallly, pointing at the audience distractedly while seemingly channeling Robert Mitchum’s preacher from The Night of the Hunter, his performance is rarely anything greater than merely watchable (unlike, for instance, musical kindred spirit Tom Waits’ performance in Big Time).
An inordinately large stage setup, even for an eight-person band, diminishes the understated charm of character studies such as “God Is In The House” and “Hallelujah.” Also, it seems as if the band doesn’t really get going until about halfway through the set, and only guitarist Blixa Bargeld and violinist Warren Ellis really seem to make much of an impression. It is Cave’s show, after all, but unfortunately, God Is In The House does not add to Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds’ predominantly superior musical output.
The DVD bonuses are equally, if not more, awkward. Three music videos (Why exactly is Nick Cave bothering to make videos?) range from the bizarre Soviet social club dance party for the song “Fifteen Feet of Pure White Snow to the simply dull. A documentary on the making of No More Shall We Part shows clips from what may be the most boring recording session of an album by a post-punk legend ever made.
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Posted on November 4, 2003 in Reviews by David Nagler
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