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On The Road with Nick

Alarcon weighs in on the new Nick Cave documentary.

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by Alarcon, for outsideleft.com
originally published: January, 2006
Moments like Cave uncomfortably holding court backstage after bad gigs with his sycophants is what make it worth purchasing the title all over again.
by Alarcon, for outsideleft.com
originally published: January, 2006
Moments like Cave uncomfortably holding court backstage after bad gigs with his sycophants is what make it worth purchasing the title all over again.

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
The Road to God Knows Where/Live at the Paradiso
(Mute Records)
Release Date: January 25, 2006
Specs: Two discs, 5.1 Dolby Stereo, 168 minutes


There's a poignant scene in "The Road to God Knows Where" that at once makes the viewer cringe in embarrassment, scowl in disgust and eventually laugh a bit. It's a scene where Cave and the Seeds are preparing to sound check in a small, 700-person bar somewhere in the middle of America. The band is milling around the stage and eventually, Cave's tour manager confronts the club owner with information regarding the house PA system which was not upgraded to Cave's tour rider specifications. Soon, Cave starts mixing it up with the weasely club owner and after failing to convince the club owner why he was wrong for ignoring the tour rider, Cave throws his hands up in the air in frustration, mumbles "fuck this then" and walks back to the band's tour bus. The tour manager continues the negotiations with the club manager and just as they're coming to terms, the club owner unknowingly insults Cave by muttering something about "what [this] guy wanted" in regards to Cave's PA needs.

"Oh, you mean the boss?" the tour manager sarcastically responds. "The reason why we're all here?"

In this Mute Records reissue of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds tour documentary, it's easy to realize why common folk like club owners, convenience store clerks and hangers-on confuse Cave for a roadie. In this two-hour film, we see Cave in two halves: the lithe ghost in a slim black suit and the regular Joe in Levis, a foam trucker cap and a sleeveless parka. The brief clips of Cave and the Seeds on stage are good enough, but it's the repetitive scenes off stage that contain this film's most fascinating moments.

Moments like Cave dealing with tedious phone interviews on the tour bus, uncomfortably holding court backstage after bad gigs with his sycophants, and browsing clothes racks for new outfits in truck stop gas stations is what makes it worth purchasing the title all over again.

But what if you already bought this film on VHS when it was first released in 1990? Is it worth buying this title all over again? For the completist it is if only because of the extra features such as The Song - a film about the absurdly detailed birth of the tune, "(I'll Love You) Till The End Of The World. In the miniature documentary, we see Cave, Blixa and Mick Harvey shape and mold fragments of several melodies into a song which is equal parts spoken word, haunted carnival and funeral march. It's an extremely rare glimpse at the creative process that very few artists of Cave's caliber would be comfortable showing.

The final track on this disc is entitled City of Refuge - an outtake reel of sorts. Nothing that special really and it ends far sooner than it should. Just when the clips start getting interesting, the credits roll. And sadly, this disc excludes the original five music videos that were included in the original 1990 VHS release, but this updated re-release makes up for the missing clips in form of a pro-shot concert on an additional disc.

The bonus disc, Live at the Pasadiso, is a well-filmed 12-song gig that was recorded sometime in Amsterdam in June 1992. Because it's in color with proper lighting, filmed with multiple cameras and in Dolby, this recording is a refreshing change from the first disc's grainy black and white film stock. All in all, a very good package - many Cave fans I've talked to about this release are up in arms over the fact that they're going to have to by the same content to get a the new content all over again, but aren't VHS takes going the way of the dodo bird anyway? Haven't we evolved since the '90s?

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Alarcon co-founded outsideleft with lamontpaul in 2004. His work for o/l has attracted the attention of hundreds of thousands of readers, oh and probably the fbi too.

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