This is Cave and cohorts fourth live album, capturing them at in interesting junction in their career with Grinderman running its course, Push The Sky Away being the first album to not include founding member Mick Harvey and unlike some of its more varied predecessors it is for the most part considered and restrained in its delivery. Live from KCRW continues that mood, even when it includes seminal Bad Seeds tracks like Mercy Seat, here stripped of its bombast and imbued with creeping dread and angst. Remarkably the intensity remains just as gripping, with added ache and sorrow courtesy primarily of Warren Ellis’ violin.
All four of the Push The Sky Away songs are the real highlights of the set. Higgs Boson Blues sets the scene with nine minutes of funereal, pulsing gothic blues, laced with line after line of Cave’s finest lyrics. Wide Lovely Eyes sticks closely to the album version with its gospel feel and rhythmic industrial chug while Mermaids is a warmer and improved rendition with the addition of a magical distortion-drenched guitar solo rumbling and groaning through the latter sections.
Not everything works as well as the most recent songs with And No More Shall We Part sounding forced and not quite in the band’s grasp. The session winds up with a comical introduction to Jack The Ripper, the band hamming it up teaching pianist Cave the chords before he commands Jim Sclavunos to “hammer it Jim” and the the sonic bar brawl of a song kicks into life. As live albums go this sounds fantastic and it feels like a celebration of the rarefied air the band are currently working in.
this review was first published in The Music