Australian-English artist Nick Cave and his band the Bad Seeds are traveling in support of captivating work new and old, and also capitalizing upon the praise for a revealing documentary film. It’s a period that finds Cave’s grim poetry and wit as razor-sharp as ever, but it would be difficult to refer to this as a celebratory period.
Released last fall, “Skeleton Tree” is the Bad Seeds’ 16th album. Cave’s albums have long involved brooding tales of desperate love, religion and death. But if the clatter and drone of songs like “I Need You” feel particularly isolated and mournful without the cathartic counterpart provided by earlier songs like “Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!,” it’s no wonder. The recent album found Cave working through unimaginable grief following the heartbreaking loss of his teenage son due to a cliff fall in 2015. Details ensconced within harrowing songs including “Jesus Alone” and “Girl in Amber” make for difficult glimpses into Cave’s pain. They’re also fearless and brutally honest efforts to claw toward peace. Ultimately, “Skeleton Tree” serves as a brave offering to others who have experienced similar loss. Such listeners can draw comfort and strength in the knowledge that they’re not alone.
Cave and the Bad Seeds have been performing most of the “Skeleton Tree” album on recent tour dates. The group visits the Auditorium Theatre on Friday.
Director Andrew Dominik’s film “One More Time with Feeling” draws its title from the “Skeleton Tree” song “Magneto.” The film describes the making of “Skeleton Tree” and the circumstances that led to changes in the album following the death of Cave’s son. The film serves as a means for Cave to communicate about the album without reopening the related wounds with interviews. It’s also the first ever non-animated black and white film shot in 3D.
The band is also traveling in support of “Lovely Creatures,” an overview of their recorded work between 1984 and 2014. Influential gothic pop tracks including “From Her to Eternity,” “Into My Arms,” “Stagger Lee” and “Red Right Hand” are anticipated at the Bad Seeds’ Chicago date.
Jeff Elbel is a local freelance writer.