Idiot Prayer: Nick Cave Alone at Alexandria Palace

Nick Cave

Idiot Prayer: Nick Cave Alone at Alexandria Palace
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Idiot Prayer: Nick Cave Alone at Alexandria Palace

Nick Cave

Idiot Prayer: Nick Cave Alone at Alexandra Palace was recorded in June 2020 as the UK slowly emerged from lockdown, and was conceived as a reaction to the confinement and isolation of the preceding months. 

In Idiot Prayer, Cave plays his songs alone at the piano in a rarely seen stripped back form, from early Bad Seeds and Grinderman, right through to the most recent Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds album, Ghosteen.

“The film ‘Idiot Prayer’ evolved from my ‘Conversations With…’ events. I loved playing deconstructed versions of my songs at these shows, distilling them to their essential forms. I felt I was rediscovering the songs all over again, and started to think about going into a studio and recording these reimagined versions at some stage - whenever I could find the time.

Then, the pandemic came - the world went into lockdown, and fell into an eerie, self-reflective silence. It was within this silence that I began to think about the idea of not only recording the songs, but also filming them.

We worked with the team at Alexandra Palace - a venue I have played and love - on securing a date to film just as soon as they were allowed to re-open the building to us.

On 19th June 2020, surrounded by Covid officers with tape measures and thermometers, masked-up gaffers and camera operators, nervous looking technicians and buckets of hand gel, we created something very strange and very beautiful that spoke into this uncertain time, but was in no way bowed by it.

This is the album taken from that film. It is a prayer into the void - alone at Alexandra Palace - a souvenir from a strange and precarious moment in history. I hope you enjoy it.”

-Nick Cave

Review

Recorded at the magnificent and historic Alexandra Palace in North London as the UK was emerging from its first COVID-19 lockdown in July this year, Idiot Prayer – Nick Cave Alone at Alexandra Palace was conceived as Cave’s reaction to this period of confinement and isolation. The performance was originally streamed live worldwide back in the middle of the year and due to the huge response, Cave has decided to release this concert as an album. Described by Cave as ‘a prayer into the void and a souvenir from a strange and precarious moment in history’, this live album includes all 22 songs he performed in that venue alone at the piano. These include deconstructed versions of songs from his discography with The Bad Seeds, which evolved from Cave’s 2019 ‘Conversations With…’ events. In Cave’s own words, ‘I loved playing deconstructed versions of my songs at these shows, distilling them to their essential forms. I felt I was rediscovering the songs all over again.’ Listeners will no doubt feel the same way, as they experience these starkly beautiful and haunting tracks.

This album is also a rare opportunity to hear Cave as a soloist. And sadly, due to travel restrictions, we are unlikely to see him perform here in the foreseeable future. Fans will have to make do with this incredible memento of a remarkable concert. At the time I write this, we still have no idea when cinemas will open in Melbourne, but if we are lucky, the concert will also get a limited cinematic run as an extended cut featuring four songs that were not shown on the stream. A DVD release, while not confirmed, is also likely to follow next year.


Dave Clarke is the music and DVD manager at Readings.

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