Nick Cave and the Bad Council

Or #Indoorconcertsarewellandtrulyback

A good indicator of how much you are enjoying something is how often you check your phone – whether that be while you’re waiting for a bus, running through the woods or having sex with your neighbour’s wife (maybe this one comes before running through the woods).

Yesterday while watching Nick Cave and Warren Ellis perform at Fairfield Halls in Croydon, South London, I only checked my watch once.

Nick Cave 4 - by Maribogni
Nick Cave is an artist I first heard about back in 1996 when I saw him on TV performing at Glastonbury. Picture by Maribogni Photography
Nick Cave 5 - by Maribogni
25 years on from that TV programme the concert at Fairfield Halls in Croydon was very live and very good. Picture by Maribogni Photography

I knew they were going to play for two-and-half-hours but didn’t know how much I’d enjoy myself.

I didn’t know that at 9.50pm when they went off stage I couldn’t quite believe it was over.  I couldn’t believe that time had gone so quickly.

Thankfully the show wasn’t quite over and they were just having a break before coming back on stage for another 30 minutes or so of tunes.

I say “of tunes” because I think I’d only heard two of three of the tracks before and cannot tell you any of the track names.

But, unlike South Facing Festival in Crystal Palace a fortnight ago and Victorious in Portsmouth last weekend, none of this mattered.

Nick Cave 2 - by Lou Burrell
Nick Cave and Warren Ellis kept the crowd entertained for two and a half hours. Picture by Lou Burrell
Nick Cave 1 - by Catherine - Bramble_66
I never thought that Fairfield Halls would open again, let alone attract someone of Nick Cave’s calibre. Picture by Catherine – Bramble_66
Nick Cave 1 - by Ruth Pott-Negrine
Even the people sitting in the balcony section had great views of the show. Picture by Ruth Pott-Negrine

Nick and his musical partner Warren stormed their way through an atmospheric set packed full of intensity and, to be frank, just brilliant tunes.

Usually I have a short attention span when it comes to bands and just want them to play for 45 minutes but here I would have been happy for them to play all night.

As well as a sense of disbelief about how good the music was, there was also a sense of wonder about finally being back in the venue.

Proclaimed as having better acoustics than the Southbank Centre on the bank of the Thames in Central London, Fairfield Halls has only recently reopened following a multi-million pound refurbishment.

And as outlined in Inside Croydon (don’t tell the old me that I’m linking to an article by Inside Croydon) and The Stage in more words than I have space for here, the refurbishment was fraught with disaster.

Nick Cave 2 - by Maribogni
Last night was only the second time I’ve seen Nick Cave live. Picture by Maribogni Photography
Nick Cave 6 - by Maribogni
The backing singers all put in a very powerful performance. Picture by Maribogni Photography
Nick Cave 1 - by Lou Burrell
This looks like it was taken at the part of the show when I thought it was all over. Picture by Lou Burrell

Fraught with disaster because Croydon Council handed the responsibility for the refurbishment of the centre to housing developer Brick by Brick.

Yes, the housing developer Croydon Council dreamed up to build pokey flats in the borough was given the task of ensuring the jewel in Croydon’s artistic crown was updated and brought back to life.

At the reopening night staff from Brick by Brick (including some who I knew as being awful at their jobs when they worked directly for Croydon Council and I worked for Croydon Guardian) were said to be congratulating themselves about how good they are.

Fast forward to now and the failure that is Brick by Brick is arguably one of the main reasons why Croydon Council had to effectively declare itself bankrupt last year.

Instead of selling land at market price lots of plots of land the council sold to Brick by Brick were said to have been sold for a pound or two.

Nick Cave 3 - by Lou Burrell
Oh what fun we had at the Fairfield Halls (better than that time I went there to report on the general election). Picture by Lou Burrell
Nick Cave 3 - by Maribogni
From where I was sitting it wasn’t really possible to get a proper look at Warren Ellis’s shoes so here they are for everyone to enjoy. Picture by Maribogni Photography
Nick Cave 2 - by Ruth Pott-Negrine
I was thinking about getting some of the stage lights for my living room but it isn’t a concert hall so it probably wouldn’t work. Picture by Ruth Pott-Negrine

Instead of properly scrutinising the affairs of the property developer (which was effectively dreamed up with the noble intention of building affordable homes for people in Croydon) the council seemed to let it do whatever it wanted.

Maybe because there have been serious questions raised over the past few years about links between some Croydon councillors and the developer. I couldn’t possibly say.

What I do know is that with the refurbishment of Fairfield Halls the council has got a great concert hall for the likes of Nick Cave to play.

What it hasn’t got is an arts building fit for all parts of the community to enjoy even when there isn’t a gig on and this is what Croydon needs.

Stay safe for another week!