NICK CAVE AND THE BAD SEEDS
God is in the House
Review by Michael Jacobson
Dolby Digital 5.1, PCM Stereo
Video: Widescreen 1.85:1
Studio: Mute Corporation
Features: Three Videos, Recording Session Documentary
Length: 140 Minutes total
Release Date: August 26, 2003
road is hard and the road is long and many fall by the side,
Papa won’t leave you, Henry, so there ain’t no need to cry.”
was first introduced to Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds through my old boss back
around 1993. He loaned me a copy of
the CD The Firstborn is Dead and said, “You’ve gotta hear this.”
years later and I’m still listening. The
Aussie native, with his growling voice and songs that conjured up visions of
Southern Gothic and the dark side of the soul were howlingly primitive,
sometimes surprisingly eloquent, and often surreal.
The world of Cave was an unsafe world, where primal urges were always
beckoning to tormented souls and squeezing out any and all hope of salvation.
is in the House marked my first experience with Cave and company live.
This concert, recorded in Lyon, France in 2001, was a lot of what I
expected (a darkly lit stage, brooding musicians, strong rhythms and somber
lyrics), and some of what I wasn’t. Namely,
that Cave is a solid showman as well as a singer and songwriter.
that he invites the audience to clap along or anything, but, perhaps channeling
the energy of Jim Morrison, he becomes something of a shaman on stage.
The music drives him and he response with intensity and fierceness;
constantly moving, not really dancing, but using his physical form as well as
his voice for expression.
songs are all good from the now classic “Do You Love Me?”, a love song as
only Cave could deliver. “Oh My
Lord” is a call from the soul, while “Red Right Hand” is darkly
infectious. Tune after tune is
delivered with contemplative precision and a deceptively simple selection of
notes and rhythms that seem to bypass the conscious mind and delve straight into
your inner workings.
a good mix of old and new, with recent songs like the lovely and haunting “As
I Sat Sadly By Her Side” coexist nicely with songs like the raucous “murder
ballad” “Papa Won’t Leave You, Henry”.
The music emerges from behind dim lights and perpetual smoke, some by fog
machines, but much from the Bad Seeds themselves. The crowd dances as though every tune were “The Rite of
Spring”, and Cave and audience seem to feed off one another’s energies.
don’t know if this concert will be enough to convert non-fans to Cave or to
serve as an introduction to his music…I can’t speak for them.
But for someone who’s enjoyed the artist’s decade-plus walk along the
straight razor edge of hell, I found this show to be a modest yet affirming
acclamation of his talents as a writer and performer.
is in the House should more than please the fans, which I think would suit Nick Cave to
the consistent dark lighting and murkiness of the smoke, there’s not a whole
lot you can ask for this DVD to do. Sometimes
it’s hard to distinguish the faces of Cave or the Seeds; though sometimes
that’s frustrating, it’s also sometimes seemingly appropriate.
There is a bit of grain from time to time that can’t be helped, I’m
sure…high contrast stock must have been used to capture this show, and visible
texture is frequently a by-product of that.
It’s a watchable show, to be very sure, but it won’t be mistaken for
the best looking DVD in your library.
5.1 mix (PCM stereo also included) is good mostly for the .1 channel:
Cave’s music is heavy on the bottom and rhythms, and the subwoofer
signal delivers nicely. The rear stage is mostly used for audience response.
The Bad Seeds’ music blends together without a whole lot of discernable
distinction; you can’t always separate the guitars from one another, for
example. That can be either a plus
or a detraction, depending on your point of view.
Overall, I was very satisfied with the mix and the dynamic range.
disc includes three videos from Cave’s newest album No More Shall We Part:
“As I Sat Sadly By Her Side”, “Fifteen Feet of Pure White
Snow” and “Love Letter”…all good. There
is also a documentary of the album’s recording session at the legendary Abbey
Road Studios. There is no narration
or interviews, merely video footage of different parts spliced together so that
you can see Cave or one of their musicians recording his part, or working out a
vocal arrangement or such. It’s
kind of nice to look into the creative process, but interviews would have been