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Nick Cave auf Burg Clam - er reicht einem Fan seine Hand, während er singt

Nikolaus Ostermann

dave Dempsey

Love, death, and redemption at a castle on a hill

From the cheeky grin of Voodoo Jürgens to the fire, brimstone and glitter gospel of Nick Cave, friday night at the Burg Clam was a wild ride on an emotional rollercoaster.

By Dave Dempsey

Hiking up the hill to Burg Clam, the air was heavy with humidity and anticipation. Vaguely reminiscent of heading out to a night on Bourbon Street in New Orleans, just steeper. The music of Voodoo Jürgens and the Ansa Panier telling stories, that could have come from any number of denizens of that storied street, with a charm and smile and energy, that had me thinking “just one more!” But there was no time for that. The gathering storm clouds in the horizon meant Nick Cave would have to take the stage 30 minutes early And Voodoo and his band seemed just as excited to see him as the rest of the crowd.

After their last show in Burg Clam, Susi Ondrušová noticed, that he sought out more and closer contact with the audience, and he started out this show by telling everyone there to Get Ready For Love. A glorious opener, that set the tone for the rest of the show. Yes, there would be all of the usual tales of murder and mayhem and hopes and fears, but he glittery robes of the gospel singers and the lightness and energy of their voices added a touch of hope, that a lot of people might need right now.

And there was love. Much love. Flowing between Nick Cave and the audience, between the band members, and between Nick Cave and Warren Ellis in particular. During the Pandemic the two band members continued to collaborate and work on songs together. Nothing new for the long time friends, but this time it resulted their first studio album and tour as a duo. I don’t know if its my bad memory or imagination, but their connections seemed just a little bit more electric this time.

Warren Ellis’ violin certainly was electric, and his furiously distorted solos verged on rapture personified.

The set list was a dramaturgical masterpiece consisting of songs from over eleven albums, that frequently sent shivers down my spine, toyed with my emotions, and left the audience wanting more. And that is exactly what we got. After ending the set with White Elephant from his collaboration with Ellis, he returned for an encore of Into My Arms, Vortex, and Ghosteen Speaks. Once again leaning into the crowd, holding their hands, connecting…

I’ve had the suspicion for some time, that Nick Cave really likes playing Burg Clam. The Dark and Fiery show I had in my memory from his last concert there has given way to the memory of a smiling, laughing almost light-hearted dark prince.  

After returning for a second encore, he kicked it off with a joke about playing a song, “that we will probably fuck up”. And then he launched into Girl in Amber. A song from Skeleton Tree, that is heavily associated with the death of his son. The first of two sons lost to him in the last 4 years. 

Like I said, an emotional rollercoaster. But despite the darkness inherent in so many of his songs, the night was still hopeful. Almost joyous.