All the gigs of my life: Gig 100 – Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Thursday, August 25, 2005, Alexandra Palace

My 100th gig saw me revisiting a band who’d been there at my very first.

My era of Not Writing About Gigs In My Diary causes particular frustration when it comes to this gig from Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. With this show I reached a milestone in my gigging life, although I didn’t realise it at the time – my 100th gig. And looking at the setlist for this show, this would surely have been a storming night. So many epic tracks from their latest two albums, like “Hiding All Away”, “Messiah Ward” and “O Children”. Classics from through the ages like “Red Right Hand”, “The Mercy Seat”, “Deanna” and my own personal favourite “The Ship Song”. How could I have witnessed a gig like this and have no memory of it?

I can muster up even less than usual from the dim recesses of my memory for this one – no images or moments from the gig, not even what it looks like inside Alexandra Palace. I have only the vaguest whisper of a memory from this night, of my Glam Best Friend and I crowding into a bus afterwards to take us back to the tube station.

But as I sat staring at the screen wondering what to write for this post, an intriguing fact dawned on me. At this 100th gig of my life, I had, in a way, come full circle. Here I was seeing Nick Cave again, just as I had done twelve years previously at my first true gig experience as a music-obsessed teen, the Big Day Out festival in January 1993.

In my blog post for my gig no. 1, I wrote:

“During Nick’s set, I had my first glimpse into the truly life-altering emotional impact that live music can have, even if I didn’t quite have the words to describe it just yet.”

And while I can’t remember this 2005 gig at Alexandra Palace, I do remember how I felt, standing in the Fremantle Oval that hot Perth summer’s day in 1993, hearing songs that had stirred my soul throughout my teens performed live for the first time in my life. It was a powerful, incomprehensible mix of emotions – joy, wonder, connection, and a sense of belonging that I have never experienced in any other place than at a gig by a favourite band.

My guess is, this Alexandra Palace show didn’t fill me with quite the same sense of awe and wonder, though I’ve no doubt it was brilliant. My focus would have been more on having an excellent night out with my Glam Best Friend, and there’s nothing wrong with that. And though I would get glimpses of it throughout my thirties, it would take me ten years from this point until I would fully rediscover the intensity, the magic, the joy and the power of live music.

Right now, of course, all that is taken away from us, and there’s no knowing when it will return. But if the upcoming Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds tour can go ahead next April, I will be down the front at the O2 like a shot, ready to experience that thrill once again, just as I did nearly 28 years ago at my first ever gig, and, very possibly, at this 2005 gig in Alexandra Palace.

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