HMV Picture House, Edinburgh, 13 October 2009
live review for the skinny
One of the first rules of writing, in any sector, is to write about what you know; so one great challenge all novelists face is to create characters and stories that don't betray too much of themselves. The title character of Nick Cave's new second novel, The Death of Bunny Munro, is a violent, "sexually incontinent" degenerate, an alcoholic travelling salesman with scant regard for anyone but himself. And what is Nick Cave doing here? Travelling the country selling his book, of course. When he perches on a chair to bombastically roar an early passage from the book, in which Bunny gets obscenely horny whilst cruising through Brighton listening to Kylie Minogue's Spinning Around, you wonder just what other parts of Bunny's character or narrative are borrowed from the Brighton-dwelling, former Kylie-duetting author's own life. Just sayin'.
Tonight's performance is part book reading, part gig, part Q&A; though in reality, the brief Q&A sections dissolve quite quickly as no-ones got any decent questions. With only multi-instrumentalist Warren Ellis and guitarist Martyn P. Casey for support, each song is played more carefully than usual, Cave's usual theatricality muted by the greater need for precise playing. The all-seated crowd don't care; everyone's an acolyte in here, laughing uproariously at every tossed-out quip; "but you're beautiful!" a man shouts when Cave asks for the stage lights to be dimmed slightly. Tonight's setlist features three songs from this writer's favourite Cave LP The Good Son, plus assorted career highlights like "Into My Arms", "Red Right Hand", "Babe, You Turn Me On", and "The Mercy Seat". And the book? Well, it seems a touch over-written, but I ordered it as soon as I got home anyway. He's a good salesman.