Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds @ The Riverstage, 08.03.2013

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds @ The Riverstage, 08.03.2013

Once again it’s a very last minute confirmation of accreditation and as ever, for all Nick Cave bands, it’s a one song, no flash scenario. It’s frustrating and somewhat annoying as these days, especially when it’s a show with a pit, I’m finding that two songs is enough but one song gives you very little to work with. We also don’t even get to photograph support act Mark Lanegan to make up for it.

Although it’s Nick Cave’s name leading the way in the band’s name, and he’s the obvious star of the show and the main point of focus, the current Bad Seeds line-up has six players in Warren Ellis, Ed Kuepper, Martin Casey, Jim Sclavunos, Conway Savage and Barry Adamson, with the core band augmented on this tour by a string section and children’s choir.

The one song we get to photograph tonight is the Prince grammar stylings homage of ‘We No Who U  R’, the first song on new album Push The Sky Away.  The album version lasts for a grand total of 4:04 and there appears to be very little difference when it’s played live.  Considering that 4:04 total and splitting it between the people on stage (counting the string section and choir as single entities) gives you less than 30 seconds per person, which is hardly anything.  It’s less of an issue when photographing for print as all you need is one photo of Nick Cave and your job is done.  Photographing for web is harder as you want a well-rounded gallery that shows everyone on stage.

Personally, even if I was doing it for print I would still want a well-rounded set of photos from tonight because of the people in his band, the status that they have, and the added bonus that they’re all hugely photographic in their own way.  That approach to photographing a gig is probably the main difference between doing it for someone like the Courier Mail, where it’s a job you turn up and leave for the next job soon after you’ve finished photographing, and doing it, like the majority of music photographers, as an expensive hobby.   Getting such a short timeframe is disappointing as the majority of people photographing him are there much more as fans than on a paid work assignment (from the 4 photographers here tonight, the only one that might be getting paid is the guy photographing for the venue itself, and even then I’m not too sure).

Yes it is NICK CAVE and the Bad Seeds but it’s also Nick Cave AND THE BAD SEEDS.  I want to photograph Warren Ellis. I want shots of Jim Sclavunos and Martin Casey and to get good photos of Barry Adamson and Ed Kuepper.  In the music world, or at least my musical world, these are important people.  A member of the Dirty Three, a drummer from an early incarnation of Sonic Youth who’s also played with a whole bunch of NY No Wave acts, the bassist from my all time favourite Australian band, the guy who played bass in the original Magazine line-up, a Brisbane legend, one of the finest guitarists I’ve ever heard and one of the driving forces behind three of my favourite albums that generally get classified under the punk label (it always surprises me that they didn’t sign Ed Kuepper up as a fifth member of Grinderman rather than as guitarist in the Bad Seeds).

Looking at Nick Cave tonight, the first thing that strikes me even before I put camera to eye is how good he’s looking.  He looks really young for a guy in his 50s and losing that ridiculous moustache has knocked years off him.  It’s just a shame that he has something approaching a near pathological  hatred of photographers.

The four accredited photographers are all squeezed into a tiny area at the front of the stage.  The small pit is made even smaller by the extension of the stage into the pit at both sides. It means at these points , there’s only just about a person’s width between the barrier and the stage, making it difficult to move along the front of the stage to change angles and get better views of the players positioned away from the front of the stage.  One song that lasts little over four minutes is bad enough and the cause isn’t helped by the dark blue light that lights the stage during our allotted time.

After our four minutes, although they’ve given us tickets, they won’t let us stay in venue with our camera gear.  We can go and check our cameras at the cloakroom tent but with all the signs warning that items are left at the owner’s risk, that just makes me feel slightly nervous and so I end up leaving them in fellow-photographer Stephen Booth’s car, parked just over from the Riverstage in QUT’s secure car park.

Although we miss a couple of song dropping our gear off, we end up staying for just over an hour, if memory serves me correctly, until The Ship Song.   Having gotten to see the setlists taped to the floor at the front of the stage in close detail, it’s a good setlist.  As with everyone with such a large back catalogue, the ‘hits section of the night pretty much writes itself.  It’s a fairly impressive crowd that have come in tonight, even more so considering that the ‘As Seen On TV’ double whammy of Ronan Keating and Brian McFadden only brought in an embarrassing 1,300 the previous night.  That’s a crowd that would only just about fill out The Tivoli so it must have looked very empty in the 9-10,000 open space of the Riverstage.

I would have liked to stay longer but it’s an evening of two halves and of two shows on either side of town.  As much as I want to see all of the ‘greatest hits’ section of the night, it’s  time to head off head off to The Zoo for the night’s second destination.

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