Musings & Life

Nick Cave Trainspotting

Nick Cave train spotting

Twitter & Facebook were all a flutter yesterday with some Nick Cave on a train action, caused by this tweet.

I think it’s all kinds of awesome that Nick Cave takes public transport. But I wonder with the rise of social media and everyone being armed with a smart phone that has a decent camera in it, if this would ever dissuade him in future from traveling in such a manner.

I’m not having a go or passing judgement on the person who snapped the picture, the situation just has me pondering our current culture and the “Photos, or it didn’t happen” mentality.

I wonder why we feel a need to capture every single moment – that we have to have some visible proof of an event for it to have been real.

The whole thing has me thinking about my own Nick Cave encounters. Including a Nick Cave Trainspotting one as well that happened 8 years ago.

I used to live in Brighton, and was traveling down from London to pick up the last of my belongings from my ex fiancé, at his Mothers house. It had been a sad, drawn out, horribly messy break up. My good friend Antigoni was accompanying me, and I don’t think I’ll ever be able to thank her enough for having taken that journey with me all those years ago.

I was an absolute wreck at the time to say the least.

On a Southern Railway train hurtling south, Antigoni and I were sat facing each other at one of the four seater tables. A tall, lanky man in a smart suit with long dark hair got on and sat down across the aisle from me, and began to read the paper.

Nick CaveConfused, blinking, trying to refocus my eyes swollen from so much crying, to confirm what I already knew.

It was Nick Cave.

What proceeded was the most surreal train journey I’ve ever taken.

As is unfortunately typical with Southern Railway there were “engineering works” going on that weekend. What would usually have been a straight shot to Brighton in an hour would take up to 2 hours, with the train deviating from its normal route. A long, tedious and painful journey.

I sat there for over 2 hours, opposite Nick Cave.

Antigoni, who at the time didn’t know who he was, started to talk about a production of the Metamorphosis at the Lyric Hammersmith she’d been to see. The musical score for the performance had been created by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis.

The MetamorphosisI remember biting the inside of my cheek so hard, wanting to tell her as she chattered on.

Nick Cave continued to read his paper, but I noticed a slight shift of attention as he overheard what we were discussing.

I cringed inwardly as she started to constructively criticize and deconstruct the performance in the way we normally would with any theatre show.

Her back to him, she asked if I had seen it, which I had. After giving a lukewarm appraisal of some of the performance, she said the best thing about the production was the score. In her strong and ever so lovely Greek accent she asked me if I knew the work of this musician that had created it – “Neek Cave”, pronouncing his first name as she if she were saying Nico.

A split second glance up, and I met his eyes.

A Glance from Nick CaveI like to think there was some bemusement there, but I’ll never really know.

Looking away, feeling flushed, I told Antigoni I was very familiar with his work and absolutely loved it.

The answer satisfied her, and the conversation continued on to the dissection of a theatre class we’d recently had.

And that was it. The journey dragged on, people clambered on and off the train, sitting beside and across from Nick Cave none the wiser or caring who he was.

He got off a stop before us, left his paper behind him, which I admit to having picked up and read. Though I left it behind me as well on our train journey back to London. It somehow seemed right, the life of a newspaper on a train, passing through many hands.

Nick Cave in a weird way has become an odd signifier for me.

He was there as one relationship ended, and he heralded the start of another. Years and countries later, at a sold-out Grinderman show in Toronto, I was separated from my friends. Scanning the audience for them as Palaces of Montezuma played, I spotted them as the stage lights hit them, and in that moment everything became clear.

It finally dawned on me that I was in love with my friend, and holy shit what the hell was I going to do, because I’ve never had any luck leaving the “Friend Zone”.

Happily, I didn’t have to do anything. On a cold winter night after I had broken up with my then boyfriend, we went out for drinks as we often did, it was then he finally told me. We haven’t looked back since.

If I had been too wrapped up in trying to take a photo of Nick Cave either on the train or at the concert, I would have missed those two incredible moments. It’s ok to stop looking through the lens all the time, not having a photo doesn’t make your experience any less real.

Life can be pretty weird and amazing at times.

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  • Reply
    February 28, 2015 at 12:02 pm

    love this. i think i would have done the same thing if i had sat across from nick cave on a train — i don’t want to bother so-called famous people going about their lives. i can imagine its one of the most irritating things in the world. BUT, internally, i would have been freaking out.

    push the sky away, as an album, and a live show, and 20,000 days on earth have also been huge signifiers for me over the past couple years.

    NickCaveGirls forever <3

    • Reply
      March 2, 2015 at 4:51 pm

      I think if my head hadn’t been so fuzzy at the time I would have been freaking out more. That and you always have an awesome mental image of being sophisticated and cool when you meet artists you admire – and at the time I was in theatre school scrubs so to speak – yoga pants and a Star Fleet Academy hoodie, I was kinda mortified by my outfit, lol.

      I’m gutted I haven’t been able to see 20,000 days on earth yet! It never made it to a cinema remotely close to where we are. Push the Sky Away though, just wow. I am so glad I made it to that show 🙂 Probably my favourite Nick Cave album for sure.

      And absolutely NickCaveGirls forever <3 xx

  • Reply
    Steff Metal
    March 1, 2015 at 4:13 pm

    Chiming in as a fellow Nick Cave lady. His music has been so vital to me for the last 15 years. He’s the kind of artist I long to be. Basically, he’s fucking incredible.

    I’ve seen him live twice, once in 2004, when he held my hand during Babe You Turn Me On, and once last year for the Push the Sky Away tour, which I got to share with a wonderful friend. I also got to meet him backstage in 04 and I gave him a hug and made a silly joke that he laughed at. A public sighting would be utterly surreal – I think I would have to say something, simply because I’d kick myself if I didn’t. I love your story 🙂 I think there was totally some bemusement.

    • Reply
      March 2, 2015 at 5:00 pm

      Yay! More Nick Cave Ladies 😀 there’s a proper bevy of us to be sure! How incredible to have seen him with such a space of time between, must have been really interesting to compare the shows. I love how we can pinpoint times in our lives with seeing performers, like they flit in and out while we listen to their music along the way. And that’s fantastic you got to meet him backstage and he held your hand (really trying to refrain from a right red hand joke)! So cool 😀 And ya, I’m glad in a way I was able to say something to him, even if it wasn’t directly, which I probably would have been too shy to, so it worked out quite well. xx

  • Reply
    October 24, 2015 at 6:37 pm

    I’ve always loved this story. I don’t know what I would have done in similar circumstances. x

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