“And it’s all right now,” Nick Cave sings over and over at the end of “Skeleton Tree,” the title track of his current album, and the final song in the main set of Cave’s powerfully emotional show at the Theatre at Ace Hotel in Los Angeles. But is it really? And will it ever be for Cave and his loved ones?
“Skeleton Tree,” the song, the album and the tour are born of the kind of tragedy and unbearable grief in which Cave has often traded, though this time it’s real life not the fiction of a song. The recording sessions in the summer of 2015 were interrupted by the accidental death of 15-year-old Arthur Cave, one of Cave’s twin sons.
And while the songs were mostly written before Arthur’s death, there’s a dark cloud of grief hanging over the album, unintentionally prophetic as the lyrics may be. Just as there is in the documentary film “One More Time With Feeling,” which the 59-year-old singer-songwriter made as he and his longtime band, the Bad Seeds, resumed work on the record as a way to address what had happened.
All of that might have made the show at the Ace too sorrowful to bear but that’s not the kind of power Cave and his six collaborators on stage chose to deliver, instead mixing the melancholy of “Skeleton Tree” — seven of its eight tracks were performed — with the more raucous clang and clamor of songs drawn from eight earlier albums. The resulting show — 18 numbers over a little more than two hours — was moving, cathartic and ultimately hopeful despite the sorrow of some of these songs.
The night opened with a trio of songs from the new record, starting with “Anthrocene,” with Cave’s stark vocal over the slow piano chord progressions of his longtime collaborator Warren Elllis, and “Jesus Alone,” which with its opening lines (“You fell from the sky / crash…