Grinderman Live at The Palace

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Grinderman Live at The Palace


With second album Grinderman 2 still fresh in our collective minds, a sold out Palace waited eagerly to see what Mr Cave and co had in store.

With second album Grinderman 2 still fresh in our collective minds, a sold out Palace waited eagerly to see what Mr Cave and co had in store. As the lights dimmed, three bearded men in suits appeared and took their places and instruments, beginning a low rumble that served as an ear warmer for the chaos to come.

The energy rose to huge applause as Nick Cave himself sauntered on and picked up his guitar and, sans moustache, his image embodied a southern preacher from hell in his dark suit and slick hair. Cave seemed genuinely happy to be “home” as he put it, and the band opened the show by treating the audience to a four song attack of Mickey Mouse And The Good Bye Man, followed by Worm Tamer, a rousing Get It On followed closely by Heathen Child. We had to catch our breaths.

Warren Ellis, the ‘Magical Musical Wizard’ that he is, was jaw dropping every minute of the next hour and a half – which doubled as a lesson in how to make noise. Stealing the show at many points from Cave, he’s truly a master of his own domain. Switching from violin to guitar to his trademark ‘FendoCastor’ from song to song (and sometimes during songs) any Melbourne band that dares to add the word ‘noise’ to their description needs to pay careful attention to how it’s really done.

Watching Ellis roll around on the floor as his infinite collection of pedals looped a maelstrom of sound around us was a sight to see, and his interaction with (bloody amazing) drummer Jim Sclavunos was excellent, like watching a man playing off his own reflection and enjoying every minute of it. Sclavunos was a man on fire in his own right; able to really open up the Grinderman material and give any young drummer a run for their money.

With chatter between songs at a minimum, the band managed to dip into both albums pretty evenly, only bringing the chaos down for What I Know, in which Cave donned the acoustic guitar as the rest of the band provided backing vocals and random noises. The energy rose again for Kitchenette, and an almost scream-therapy rendition of No Pussy Blues, which featured Cave summing up the meaning of the song through grunts and cries.

At around an hour into the set the band said “goodnight” and took a short break, giving just enough time for my lady and I to discuss the farce that is the contemporary ‘encore’, before they returned and crooned out the surprise radio-hit Palaces Of Montezuma. This song closed with a brilliantly fucked lead break by Ellis, who seemed to be purposely crossing between the ‘right’ notes of the solo and then purely twisting the guitar’s neck to make it scream. The mellow Man In The Moon followed, and was beautiful, the only song to almost blend into Bad Seeds territory before When My Love Comes Down, Love Bomb and Grinderman closed the night.

I was glad to leave knowing I’d witnessed and taken in the whole package of lights and chaos on stage. I also felt happy in the knowledge I would see the band again at Big Day Out…only this time you’ll find me right up front, a smiling face in the musical apocalypse.