One of rock ’n’ roll’s most bad-ass moments

Last Friday at Metropolis, a giant among men restored rock ’n’ roll’s primal power, honesty and soul. And you probably missed it. PLUS this week in live punk, metal, avant garde and rock, readings, DJ nights and more.

As predicted, the Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds show last Friday night at Metropolis was easily the best I’ve seen in 2013 and provides a hefty measuring stick for all the shows to come this calendar year.

No big surprise, as this was the fourth time I’ve been lucky enough to see Cave and company — the rejuvenated sheen that he applies to his dusty nuggets has me returning again and again.

Although the man is probably my favourite balladeer, his backbone remains pure and primal rock ’n’ roll, with expert storytelling that’s completely devoid of ironic posturing and ham-fisted histrionics. Cave knows how to play the role of a rock star perfectly as he lets his backbone slide and his pelvic area thrust and gyrate as he screams, kicks, grabs hands and pounds the pulpit of forlorn love, spilling blood, blues, temptation, redemption and old-testament fire and brimstone.

The set was peppered with songs from the new record, Push the Sky Away, but they were radically transformed from their minimal, looped recorded versions and taken to new sonic heights with a full band backing. Set opener “We No Who U R” was a ballsy choice, but when he countered with the slow crescendo and reveal of “Jubilee Street,” we were all sitting safely in the palm of his hand. Shortly after that, it was a perfectly paced cavalcade of hits that just kept on coming. Cave announced the beginning of “From Her to Eternity” with, “I wanna tell ya about a girl,” and punctuated the opening beat with a pelvic thrust that sent jaws to the floor.

Set staples like “Red Right Hand” and “The Mercy Seat” climbed to new lofty heights, with emotional depth and scope that eclipsed the original versions and piled on the dynamic ballast. Sublime ballads like “Into My Arms” and an incredibly hushed rendition of one of his best-penned numbers, “God Is in the House,” stole our breath and reduced the most callous and jaded to a shimmering puddle.

Extended set closer “Stagger Lee,” replete with more “motherfuckers” than an O.D.B. record, will be indelibly stamped into my memory banks as one of rock ’n’ roll’s most bad-ass moments.

The next time Nick Cave comes to town, do not, I repeat, DO NOT miss a chance to see this living legend. As a rock giant with the ability to return the form to its original, honest, sincere, powerful, intelligent and creative state, Nick Cave could very well be the last man standing.

Here are the gigs, here are the gigs, here are, here are, here are the gigs:

Tuesday – Another edition of Mardi Spaghetti gets underway tonight at Cagibi. This semi-regular night of improv music will feature seven musicians in a variety of accompaniments.

On a completely different tip is the city’s longest running weekly DJ night We Sold Our Souls to Rawk and Roll at Casa. Shake it like a bowl of soup to the selections of DJ Juan Zanders

The furry folks at Indie Montreal and Passovah Productions have cooked up a fine, albeit slightly tear-inducing shindig at Quai des Brumes, with the electro-folk of Winnipeg’s Oldfolks Home plus avant-rock duo Cinema l’Amour and Jenn Mierau.

Wednesday – Another edition of the Audio Enthusiast Club is in session at Notre Dame des Quilles with DJs Dirty Boots and Backdoor Fillin’. Expect everything from dark and synthy to rough and raucous.

My pick of the week is a toss-up. One contender is the melancholic bombast of Sigur Rós, who’ll shake the foundation of the Bell Centre with the brooding dronescapes of Tim Hecker opening. Despite the massive, cold and cavernous environs, this is guaranteed to cave in craniums and pluck at heartstrings.

Thursday – The other potential pick of the week would have to be Nadja’s Aidan Baker with Benoit Pioulard and the sampled drones of Insect Ark at the far friendlier and comfier surroundings of Casa. Baker’s solo side is far more subtle in nature than Nadja and features more of his hushed vocals in the mix, but the man is still able to dial in astounding dronescapes at will. I’ll see ya there.

Happening down at Katacombes is Queer Ass Punk with bands A Murder of Crows, Bitter Fruit and DJs the Velvet Underpants, Degenerate and Autodafe. Queer Ass Punk will also launch the premier issue of “fagazine” Crooked, which comes free with the cover charge at the door.

Friday – The experimental blues of Alexei Martov will unleash a flurry of guitar leads with Bodyshakes, Raw Hound and Jade House at Il Motore.

For a solid night of punk pop, catch San Francisco’s Joyride and San Jose’s Sour Patch with locals Loudbag, the Facials and Dopplebanger at Squalor (ask a punk).

For a night of modern prog and heavy psych, make it Avec le Soleil Sortant de sa Bouche with Panopticon Eyelids before l’Esco’s month-long 13-year anniversary celebration finally winds down on Sunday.

If the words “indie noise pop” get you all giddy, you can catch Winnipeg’s Boats (not to be confused with Boats!) with J.M. Farr and local stud muffin Dagan Harding at Cagibi.

Saturday – For those of you who’ve been diggin’ deep into the history of Canadian punk, you won’t want to miss the author of the sublime book Perfect Youth: The Birth of Canadian Punk, Sam Sutherland, in conversation with Ralph Alfonso (former owner of the ’ 70s Toronto punk landmark the Crash and Burn, manager of the Diodes, publisher of Liz Worth’s amazing tome about Toronto’s first wave of punk, Treat Me Like Dirt etc). It takes place at Alfonso’s digs, BBAM! Gallery (3255 St-Jacques). In case you missed it, here’s my recent review of Sutherland’s book. Chatter begins at 3 p.m., and best of all, it’s free.

Two bands that got some ink spilled in the Montreal chapter of Sutherland’s book, the Normals (from 1977) and the Electric Vomit (from 1979 and featuring a young and snotty American Device Rick Trembles and Nil Carlos Soria), will also perform at l’Esco on Saturday night with guests Gerbia and DJ Chris Barry (from original glamour punks the 222’s!). While you’re there, grab a slab of Montreal punk rock history, the Electric Vomit seven-inch reissued in 2007 by Garbage Bag Records. It’s a punk rock delight.

For goths looking to get their industrial kicks, you should swoop down on Katacombes for Nevermore, A Night to Die For with DJs Faith and Uriel

Sunday – Fans of the cream of the crop of Creation Records and other shoegazey nuggets, you can catch some serious pedal-pushing from Kestrels, Beliefs and the cacophonous sounds of Aim Low at Casa. Bring earplugs.

For a night of experimental modern classical steeped in an electro-acoustic din, check out Igorrr (aka composer Gautier Serre) with Mutante, Na and Vndl at Katacombes.

And if you like the Books, you’ll want to catch Nick Zammuto’s solo debut at Il Motore with Snowblink. ■

Current obsession: Nadja, Sky Burial

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