I have a strange history with this band. I have told this story to a few people recently, and nearly all of them have been upset, bewildered, and frustrated at me. My first introduction to Grinderman, hell, to Nick Cave in general was in 2007. That summer I attended the White Stripes concert at Madison Square Garden. To this day, it is still one of my favorite concerts, but until recently it had this weird caveat in the story of the gig. The openers to this show were country legend Porter Wagoner (who coined the Nudie suit, and died only a few months later), and Grinderman. This was Grinderman’s first US show, and of all places it was at the “World’s Most Famous Arena”. Before they went on, this woman turns to my friend and I and asks, “Will you please not talk during Nick Cave?” The two of us were extremely confused, as we had no idea who this “Nick Cave” was. We told her we would refrain from opening our mouths, but we thought this was strange. Grinderman takes the stage, and starts creating quite the ruckus on the large stage. Nick Cave is running around the stage like a crazed animal, shouting at the crowd, Warren Ellis and his crazy hair is playing miniature guitars, and making them screech and sound like a tornado. We were confused as to what we were watching, as is everyone else surrounding us, except for the Nick Cave fan, sitting in her seat, smiling. During the first song, Nick Cave slips onstage and falls down. After the song he announces “I can tell my children that my fell on my ass at Madison Square Garden”. Essentially that sums up what I thought about their set, a band falling on it’s ass on it’s big chance to break to a large audience.
As years went on, my friend and I would joke about the Grinderman show, occasionally texting pictures of Nick Cave with his 70’s porn mustache to each other, with captions of “I’VE GOT THE NO PUSSY BLUES!!!!!!” This prejudice for Grinderman, and all things Nick Cave (who I later learned was considered a legend in the eyes of many music lovers like minded to myself), continued until August 2010. One day I was watching a documentary on the All Tomorrow’s Parties festival, when suddenly footage of Grinderman’s first public performance came on the screen. They were playing none other than “No Pussy Blues”, the very song I had joked about for so long. As I watched Nick Cave shout as loud as he could, and Warren Ellis look like he was having an seizure on stage, I realized how wrong I had been for all these years. The timing of changing my mind was impeccable, as a new album from Grinderman came out in September, and of course, I loved it. A few weeks later I realized that a full tour of the US was coming, and I had to rectify my previous sins towards them.
My friends here at the radio station (who are HUGE Nick Cave fans), and myself decided that we should take the roadtrip to Boston to see the concert. We would have gone to the NY show, but Boston was on a Saturday. We took the 4+ hour drive across NY & Massachusetts to the House of Blues, a venue conveniently located next to Fenway Park. The opener was a theramin player, Armen Ra. For those of you who don’t know what this is, it’s one of the first electronic instruments ever created. It is played by the placements of your hands in the air. It was a strange opener for such a loud band to follow.
Finally, the house lights go down and Grinderman takes the stage. Nick Cave is a wild animal, running across the stage shouting nonsensical words at the crowd, playing his guitar and keyboard with a crazy intensity. Warren Ellis plays a variety of guitars and percussion, and looks like he hasn’t had a haircut in about 20 years. He even rolls around on the floor with his microphone and shouts background vocals during one of the show’s best songs, “Evil”. Everyone in the crowd eats it up as the band slays through material from their first two albums. The sound an organized chaos, something that professionals like Grinderman can easily handle. The energy of the band was always at a peak, but it reached its highest on “No Pussy Blues.”
Grinderman performed an 80 minute set on the 3rd night of their tour. Actually, it was the first night of their US shows. Somehow I always catch their first US shows…