Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds-The Abattoir Blues Tour (2007)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 29-Jan-2007

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
BUY IT

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Music Bonus Track-Wonderful Life
Bonus Track-Nobody's Baby Now
Bonus Track-Bring It On
Bonus Track-Sad Waters
Bonus Track-Watching Alice
Bonus Track-Christina the Astonishing
Bonus Episode-Wild World
Featurette-The "Bring It On" Shoot
Music Video-Bring It On
Music Video-Babe,I'm On Fire
Music Video-Breathless
Music Video-Get Ready For Love
Short Film-Abbatoir Blues/The Lyre of Orpheus - A Short Film
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2007
Running Time 76:00
RSDL / Flipper No/No
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By None Given
Studio
Distributor

EMI Music
Starring None Given
Case Amaray-Opaque-Dual-Secure Clip
RPI ? Music None Given


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Unknown English dts 5.1 (768Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Linear PCM 48/20 2.0 (1536Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    No one could accuse Nick Cave of succumbing to middle age, either in the volume of his output or the singlemindedness of his vision. In the last few years he has not only turned his considerable talents to pure music, releasing several albums, but he also wrote the screenplay for the movie The Proposition and is well on his way to finishing another film.

Music wise the 90's saw Cave slowing down in the attack of his songs, producing a trio of albums, beginning with Murder Ballads and ending with And No More Shall We Part , that re-invented him as a piano crooner, only occasionally bursting into full flight. The Lyre of Orpheus/Abattoir Blues was an interesting experiment, combining one album of ballads (Lyre) with one album of pacier stuff (Abattoir).

The distinction might have been blurred with a few songs but Cave went to the extent of having different drummers on each album.

Since the release of Abattoir/Lyre Cave has not abandoned heavier music, as the recent side project Grinderman attests. Completed using a few of the Bad Seeds it is a raw often scarifying piece with Cave strapping on a guitar for the first time to deliver some "grinding" tunes.

The Bad Seeds haven't committed themselves to live recording on very many occasions. Recently a concert from 1992 surfaced as part of the documentary The Road to God Knows Where and God Is In The House reflected the 2001 tour. The best representation of them live, for my money, is the Live Seeds CD from 1993 which captured the band at its raucous best.

This DVD comes from the beginning of the tour on the back of Abattoir/Lyre. The tour wound its way across the world lobbing up in Australia in 2005.

Depending on your point of view a tour on the back of a double album can be a curse. Instead of half a concert worth of new material in a set punters faced the prospect of hearing very few of the "old songs". This concert is a truncated version of the show and consists, as expected, of mostly new songs with older tunes finding their way into the encore.

Despite the fact that the songs are new they are performed surprisingly well by the tight ensemble, although Cave needs his lyrics sheet in hand for The Lyre of Orpheus!

The line up for the show was as follows:

Nick Cave - vocals, piano
Martyn Casey - bass
Warren Ellis - violin, mandolin, bouzouki, flute
Mick Harvey - guitars, bouzouki
James Johnston - organ, guitar
Conway Savage - piano
Jim Sclavunos - drums, percussion
Thomas Wydler - drums, percussion
Aside from the musicians there was a "gospel quartet" of singers.

Even casual fans will immediately notice the absence of legendary axeman Blixa Bargeld who brought a gloriously unhinged sound to the band beginning with the first Bad Seeds record. Whilst their parting was amicable it is difficult to imagine that Bargeld found his place in the new Bad Seeds, with the emphasis on piano and more delicate sounds, to be his cup of tea. With few exceptions the new sound is large and complex. The effect of the expanded line-up is interesting but for me raises the question of which line up leads to the best Bad Seeds live show. There may be fighting in the streets at this comment but in my view the last great set of songs for live performance came from the Let Love In album from 1994 . The piano ballad music was alright and, to be fair, in a live setting even the ballads are loud, but the barely contained hysterical drive behind the music that leads to a great record but not always great concert is not as evident in the newer material.

The intricacy of the arrangements on Abattoir/Lyre means that when played live there is always a risk that the music can get buried under the weight of the sound. Take songs like Messiah Ward and Supernaturally which have too much weight on them for clear listening and the sound tends to muddy. That is not a criticism of the DVD as the songs sounded this dense in a live setting. Still, Nick Cave is always enjoyable live and some of the tunes are riveting. Easy Money has a real intensity not present on the album and There She Goes, My Beautiful World is a stunner. From the thudding bass of Martyn Casey to the insistent violin work of Warren Ellis this is a polished band with the ever reliable Mick Harvey on guitar. In keeping with the last album there are two drummers on stage alternating percussion duties. They end the concert here (as when I saw them on the tour) with the Murder Ballad Stagger Lee which descends into a wig-out leaving nothing more to be said. Cave puts in his usual effort combining the piano troubadour with the wild man lead strutting around the stage spitting out his askew poetry.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Track Listing

1. Hiding All Away
2. Messiah Ward
3. Easy Money
4. Supernaturally
5. The Lyre of Orpheus
6. Babe, You Turn Me On
7. Nature Boy
8. Get Ready For Love
9. Carry Me
10. There She Goes, My Beautiful World
11. God Is In The House
12. Red Right Hand
13. The Ship Song
14. Stagger Lee

Transfer Quality

Video

   As might be expected the DVD's represent a range of aspect ratios. The main concert is in a 1.85:1 transfer which is 16x9 enhanced.

The transfer no doubt presented problems for the filmmakers with its subdued lighting and dour set. The image is clean but the quality naturally pales behind some recent big budget concert films such as U2's Vertigo tour and the Madonna Confessions tour. Having said that, I doubt too many Cave fans would be expecting anything other than dark and smoky.

The colours are a mix of dark and primary and skin tones are dependant on the lighting.

Somewhat surprisingly aliasing is not an issue on the strings or the microphone stands. There is very little noise on the digital image. One of the cameras is a little more noisy than the others but this is only noticeable if you are looking for it.

Other digital artefacts are minimal.

All in all a pretty good image for a glorified pub rock gig.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

  The concerts on this DVD come in three forms; DTS 5.1, Dolby Digital 5.1 and LPCM.

Whilst I expected the DTS soundtrack to be the clear winner I didn't expect the ordinary Dolby track to be so insipid. It took a sharp turn on the volume knob to get the sound up to a decent listening level.

The LPCM track is decent for those without surround sound although it tends to make the muddy songs even muddier.

The concert mix is pretty good. The vocals are high up in the mix allowing fans to savour the quirky poetry on offer and the bass line is thundering at times. In fact, sometimes the bass was just too loud giving a slight distortion and overpowering some of the delicate sounds.

Warren Ellis probably cops the worst with his lovely violin part on Carry Me well down in the mix.

Again, my recollection of the show is that this was a feature of the live set and displays the difficulty of having a live show mixing the delicate and the primeval.

Overall fans would be happy with the sound.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Awash with extras is an understatement for this set.

Bonus Track Music Videos: Bring It On, Babe, I'm On Fire, Nature Boy, Breathless, Get Ready For Love

A selection of music videos are included here being two songs from the Nocturama set, which effectively plugs the gap between the Bad Seeds videos DVD of 1998. Whether you get much joy from these videos depends on whether you believe the band when they say that they do not like doing music videos. Truth be told they are pretty much "stand there and play" guys. The highlight for fans would have to be the 15 minute long version of Babe, I'm On Fire with the band camping it up in costumes befitting the wild lyrics. However, those with sensitive stomachs should stay away from the representation of the "hooligan mooner"!

Bonus Episode Concert Hammersmith Apollo 7 June 2003 : Wonderful Life, Nobody's Baby Now, Bring It On, Sad Waters, Watching Alice, Christina the Astonishing, Wild World

The DVD includes another concert excerpt, this one from the Hammersmith Apollo on 7 June 2003. This set features a few songs from Nocturama (the show was before Abattoir/Lyre was released) but Cave also delves deeper into his back catalogue. Even without the legendary Birthday Party behind him Wild World is a stunner, gathering pace and intensity as it goes on. At only 35 minutes long I begged for more.

Featurette The Bring it On Shoot

As you an imagine this is a video of the making of the Bring It On video which, with tongue firmly in cheek, features a gaggle of sexy black dancers. Although the final video itself is not that special the sight of the dour teuton Blixa Bargeld being rubbed up against by a hotpants hottie is a real hoot.

The video was shot by John Hillcoat, director of The Proposition but the making of video was filmed by Bad Seed Mick Harvey. During the filming process Harvey takes a pronounced dislike to the very Hollywood choreographer and at least part of the film is a dig at him.

An interesting insight into the creation of a music video.

Short Film Making of Abattoir Blues/Lyre of Orpheus

This short film shows the creation of Abattoir/Lyre set and includes interviews with Cave and producer Nick Launay. Cave points out that this was a rehearsed album, perhaps because of the size of the musical forces at work and the intricacy of the arrangements. Notoriously interview shy Cave is relaxed and forthright, admitting that he stole Bring it On from the Cockney Rebels Come Up and See Me. Cave provides an apt description of his songs as "huddled up the back of the bus, smoking and sniggering"!

There is a further deluxe edition available which includes 2 cd's of live concert material from the tour.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The DVD is identical across the regions.

Summary

   The Abattoir Blues show is a great reminder that Nick Cave is as much a talent in 2004 as he was in 1984.

The DVD is a reasonably nice looking concert with good sound only hampered by the difficulty of sonically representing the complex music and large ensemble.

The extras are excellent and the double DVD set is a gift for Bad Seeds fans.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Trevor Darge (read my bio)
Saturday, April 21, 2007
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DVR 630H-S, using Component output
DisplayPanasonic TH-50PV60A 50' Plasma. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080i.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationOnkyo TX - SR603
SpeakersOnkyo 6.1 Surround

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add) NONE