One of the many gifts bestowed upon us by his magnificence Nick Cave, has been that his music and words have made us feel somehow more comfortable in our aloneness and isolation—he has helped to elevate our outsiderness when it was most deeply felt. So nothing could be more apt than for the Bard of Melbourne (or Warracknabeal?) to be performing in complete isolation, as we struggle in and out of the pandemic-imposed lockdowns, which have become worryingly political.
But Nick has never wanted to moderate between ideologies. Rather, he and his songs always manage to shine a light so that we may better see ourselves, especially at such a time when quarantine has often put us at odds with those very selves.
And so he valiantly took to the stage of the exalted Alexandra Palace, near Muswell Hill in far North London, this past June. The Grade II listed Victorian venue dates back to 1875, when it was built upon the site of Tottenham Wood; and within one of its spectacular halls, Cave and his piano let fly with the raw, stark grace of his still chill-inducing music. Captured on film by cinematographer Ronnie Ryan (The Favourite), the result is Idiot Prayer – Nick Cave Alone at Alexandra Palace, which will be streamed around the world this July 23, at 90 minutes running time.
“Idiot Prayer’ evolved from my ‘Conversations With…’ events” he explains, “performed over the last year or so. I loved playing deconstructed versions of my songs at these shows, distilling them to their essential forms—with an emphasis on the delivery of the words. I felt I was rediscovering the songs all over again, and started to think about going into a studio and recording these reimagined versions at some stage—whenever I could find the time.
Then, of course, the world went into lockdown. The Bad Seeds’ global 2020 tour was postponed. Studios shut down. Venues shut down. And the world fell into an eerie, self-reflective silence.
It was within this silence that I began to think about the idea of not only recording the songs, but also filming them.
Meanwhile, I sat at home working out how to play more songs in the ‘Conversations’ format—new songs and songs from the Ghosteen album, Grinderman songs and early Bad Seeds stuff, and everything in between.
We worked with the team at Alexandra Palace—a venue I have played and love. We had an amazing production team and crew, and what they did within this extraordinary situation was a marvel. Surrounded by COVID officers with tape measures and thermometers, masked-up gaffers and camera operators, nervous looking technicians and buckets of hand gel, together we created something very strange and very beautiful that spoke into this uncertain moment, but was in no way bowed by it.
I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed making it.”
Here we have the first, and fittingly, enigmatically poetic trailer. Advance tickets can be purchased here.