Nick Cave takes aim at Hillary Clinton during the 56th Annual Rolling Stones Show at the Beacon Theatre.
On the surface, it’s a surprisingly straightforward example of pure pop music being forced into a reactive cycle for political purposes: a Harry Potter-inspired fusion of rock and blues with politics thrown in for good measure. But for the vast majority of the audience, this 50-minute set yesterday at New York’s Beacon Theatre represents not only how Paul McCartney played his piece at this year’s Bonnaroo Festival, but also a satisfying shot in the arm of alternative rock as a whole in a season of growing shifts in musical taste.
On the piano and acoustic guitar, Cave kept the beats true to the work he’s done throughout the four-decade career, hauling baritone blues tones about 4½ hours into the set before jumping into his blistering anthem for female empowerment, “Crying in His Own Words.” It earned a passionate, formal response from the many partygoers who took their seats, although Cave didn’t emphasize his own big-hearted manner too much. People came to this show to hear traditional pop songs and a well-loved memory of the Beatles, but as camp as that record is, it felt uniquely celebratory for a whole new generation of Cave-lovers. The excitement from Cave’s banter was off-putting, but the ecstatic lyrics by Cave and Richard Thompson sure weren’t. This piece was an especially enjoyable reminder that one of the three big, liberating force of pop music is that if you write your own words and songs, it’s not just about the songs, but about finding inspiration.
Check back here all day to check out Slate’s Culture Gabfest, right here.