A great thing about Glastonbury’s frequently eclectic main stage line-up is how worried the fans of gentle headline acts sometimes look when faced with a surprise blast of true musical ferocity.
So it’s a joyous thing to see a fair few of the die-hard Mumford devotees who’ve pitched up at the front for a prime spot being literally walked all over by the shiny shoes of Nick Cave – one of rock’s more mesmerizingly brutal, yet still debonair demon choirmasters.
And to make matters even better it’s to the frankly obscene lyrics of the evil ‘Stagger Lee’.
Cave does find one of his own tribe though – easily spotted as she‘s got his name scrawled on her cheeks – and he briefly balances on the security rail by clamping her head between his knees, to obvious delight and disbelief.
There’s a pause as he gazes up to the stage. “Jesus, you’re a long way away,” Cave shouts out from the pit to his Bad Seeds. “I’ve absolutely no idea how to get back – which song’s next anyway?“
After eventually scaling the stage again, the impresario later returns to the front and this time picks out a stunningly well-proportioned red-head who’s perched on anonymous shoulders. Transfixing her with his animal stare for half a song, he serenades the beauty, both of them seemingly oblivious for two minutes to the presence of the rest of the crowd.
However the stand-out musical moments have to be ‘Tupelo’ and encore, ‘Red Right Hand’.
Despite the warmth of the evening, given Cave’s almost godlike demonic persona, there’s a shiver passes through the audience as Tupelo’s opening lines crash skywards:
“Looka yonder! Looka yonder! A big black cloud come…”
Nobody would have been surprised at this very moment if such call to the heavens conjured up a storm cloud from nowhere. But perhaps it’s a spell with a built-in time delay designed to bring down the torrents on the heads of Mumford & Sons?
Whatever, the dark homage to the birth of Elvis Presley is a beautiful reminder of how Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds have a catalogue of powerhouse songs stretching back to the mid-80s. Murderous ballads that will guarantee they continue to stay relevant to new generations of fresh fans.
Ckick here for our full Glastonbury coverage.