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From Her to Eternity (Live in Copenhagen 2017)
by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
I suppose it's fair now to call Australian writer, singer, and bandleader Nick Cave a legend; he's reached his sixties and has so many accomplishments under his belt and has become such a seasoned, immaculate performer that to me he feels like one of our time's greatest artistic icons. His most recent studio album Skeleton Tree (2016; his 16th with backing band the Bad Seeds after five with The Birthday Party) was impacted irreversibly by the accidental death of his teenage son Arthur during its recording. Even without considering this, the album is a stark departure from rock and roll; the vocals are nearly spoken-word performances rather than verse-chorus-verse rock singing. Following Arthur's death it was said that Cave would not do any promotional performances for the album; instead, the haunting documentary One More Time with Feeling, about the making of Skeleton Tree, would serve as its promotion. This was quickly scuttled and Cave and band embarked on an extensive 2017 tour of the US and Europe, and its Copenhagen date was documented for a concert film, Distant Sky. 11 months later, four songs from the film were released on vinyl as the Distant Sky: Live in Copenhagen EP.

Side one holds two '10s songs, while side two contains a pair of classics from the '80s Bad Seeds catalog. Two performances on the EP are strikingly powerful--Jubilee Street (2013) and From Her to Eternity, from the group's 1984 debut album of the same name. The accompanying video clip will give you a good idea of the power of Cave's live act--I've seen him three times and they can be galvanizing to watch. Cave spits the lyrics so forcefully at times in this performance that I thought he changed the lyrics "You walk and cry/You kneel and cry" and was repeatedly hissing "YOU'RE SMOKIN' CRACK!"

Since the advent of Record Store Day it feels like a flood of little one-off and live releases have come out of Cave's camp, whether they have been associated with RSD or not. When the Distant Sky EP was announced I wondered if I truly needed yet another one, particularly yet another one that includes yet another performance of "The Mercy Seat," but I am glad I carried on and got a copy. The pressing is fairly bad; side two of my copy sounds like it's pressed on aluminum foil, but it contains a free download and many digital-minded people won't bother with the vinyl at all. The performances make this release worthwhile.
2018 - Bad Seed Ltd.
Posted: 11th January 2019
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