Heathen children: Grinderman at the Coronet, 2nd October 2010

I said in a previous post that it’s impossible to capture the feeling of being at a gig in all of it’s sweaty, noisy glory, but just now and then you can’t help but want to convey an experience, howevermuch a poor approximation; in this case Grinderman at the Coronet on New Kent Road.

Watching Grinderman was like being hit over the head with a bearded sledgehammer. How do four men make such noise? A propulsive maelstrom, with ringleader Nick Cave not so much singing as summoning the devil and his minions, barely containing the riotous blast crashing all around him.

We have guitarist and violinist Warren Ellis, at one point on his knees shouting ‘evil’, all the while looking like a skinny Lord Of The Rings dwarf, his massive beak leering over his vast shrub of a beard.

Next to him, centre stage: Cave flapping elbows like wings in imitation of a bee, his sinewy, undulating, dripping frame silhouetted against the side of the theatre in the stagelight’s beam. Alternately moaning, crooning, growling and yes, buzzing.

The bassist, Martyn Casey, most closely resembles a depraved Bee Gee, hunched over his instrument in stasis, the solid pillar propping up this magnificent edifice of a band that no sensible person would ever think to call a side project.

Last but not least: drummer Jim Sclavunos, pounding the skins with sticks, maracas and fury, looking like a slightly more hirsute De Niro in The Deerhunter. A bruiser; fitting really: the music is bruising.

At one point someone in the crowd called out for Bad Seeds song The Mercy Seat. Cave said: “you’re Australian, right? The news is on it’s way: this is a different band. I know it’s confusing.” Not to those with ears. Musicians half the age of this lot must marvel at the ferocity and brio that comes an undimmed passion for performance.

Throughout the ninety minute set I did not stop smiling. When I grow up I want to be Grinderman.

You can find me grinding away on Twitter @philblogs.


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Man of letters & numbers; also occasionally of action. Husband to NTW. Dad of three. Friendly geek.

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