“Someone’s got to sing the blood, and someone’s got to sing the pain,” Nick Cave’s disembodied voice intoned in a recording of his spoken-word piece “Steve McQueen” that was played over the PA before the Australian singer made his way to the stage at Disney Hall on Tuesday evening.

The couplet was a somber reminder of Cave’s evolving role as an artist in recent years as he’s worked through loss in his life — the tragic death of his son Arthur in 2015 — in a bold form of artistic and very public catharsis in which he’s wrestled with, and ultimately taken possession of, his grief through his increasingly personal performances. As he confessed to the crowd on the final night of the Conversations With Nick Cave tour, the trauma has transformed him, shaking him out of his previously cynical and misanthropic mindset into a more vulnerable, open hearted and even hopeful worldview.

Cave has spent much of his musical and literary career creating a larger-than-life, almost mythically distant and godlike persona, but he brought himself down to Earth at sold-out Disney Hall in a solo performance and wide-ranging discussion with the audience that was by turns poignant, funny, philosophical and even shocking. The singer didn’t just take questions from the audience in between stripped-down vocal-and-piano arrangements of 11 songs — he engaged the more thoughtful fans in extended, mutually revealing exchanges.

About a dozen small tables, each seating four people, were arrayed onstage behind a black piano and Cave’s music stands, adding to the intimate feel of the discussion/concert. After entering from stage left, Cave, who was dressed formally in a black suit with a white shirt, greeted the crowd and explained why he’d brought everyone together for this unusual emotional summit, a combination of concert and therapy. He also took the time to gently tease a late-arriving guy named Zack and helped usher him to his seat in one of the front rows.

Waxing nostalgic about the conclusion of the solo tour, he said, “I’m a little bit sad about it. It feels very good to do for me. It’s an extension of the Red Hand Files [the website where he interacts online with fans]. I was getting a lot mail, a lot of questions. … It’s a way of individualizing my audience. … There’s a collective need in those questions. It can get quite strange.”

Given that audience questions from earlier in the tour have ranged from the quite strange and ridiculous to the sublime (and they would again Tuesday night), Cave counseled the gathering to have patience and understanding for those who were brave enough to stand up and speak. He also urged that folks not video the questioners and potentially “ruin their lives forever.” Ushers bearing colorful beacon-like lights were stationed around Disney Hall, from the upper sections to the tables onstage. When Cave was ready to take a new question, ushers would light their beacons to indicate they had a willing questioner, and the singer pointed to the person he wanted to talk to next.

Sitting down at the piano, he opened with a comforting, stately version of “The Ship Song” followed by a more demonstrative and swaying “The Weeping Song.” “A good song tends to follow you around,” Cave remarked in response to a woman who wanted to know about his songwriting process. Commenting on his newly released double album with The Bad Seeds, he added, “Ghosteen is one long song, in a way.”

Another questioner drew laughter when he wanted to know how Cave kept his notoriously moody and often-dark music “so light and fresh.” Cave smiled and replied, “There has to be humor. Humor is the oxygen around seriousness.” The next inquisitor was curious about which living musician Cave would most like to see put on a similar type of Q&A. “Patti Smith. She knows how to talk about things. … She’s an unsafe speaker,” Cave said admiringly. Riffing on another wordsmith with the surname Smith, Cave confided, “Mark E. Smith was a dear friend of mine, and one of the most caustic and bitter people.” He joked that the late Fall singer would have ruthlessly mocked the evening’s sensitive and emotional vibe.

A woman from Perth wondered how much being raised in Australia impacted Cave’s songwriting. “My songs have very much to do with memory and where I grew up,” he said. “I had a free-range childhood in Australia.” Expanding further, he said, “That bucolic childhood still finds itself in the settings of my songs. … When I was 14, someone played Leonard Cohen and fucked the whole thing up.”

A reference to “The Mercy Seat,” a momentous, Biblical-themed anthem written by Cave and Mick Harvey about a man condemned to execution by electric chair, led Cave to muse about the differences between The Bad Seeds’ 1988 version and Johnny Cash’s 2000 remake. “With Johnny Cash, you get a sense that the guy is innocent. In my version, the guy is guilty,” he said. This digression was followed by a strong rendition of the song, with Cave’s voice and piano swelling with passion and forceful volume. A few moments later, with the stage lit a moody blue, the vocalist invoked Cohen again, this time with a comparatively restrained and mournful interpretation of “Avalanche.”

Nick Cave (Matthew Thorne)

Cave opened up about his sometimes contradictory views about God in response to a question from a woman about a line of lyrics (“The fields are just fields, and there ain’t no Lord”) in “Bright Horses,” from Ghosteen. “It’s a hallucination, magical thinking,” he said about the song. “I have given myself over to the unknown … what is beyond truth. The idea of God in general is this beautiful, absurd notion of giving yourself over to something that probably doesn’t exist.” Alluding to the frequent religious imagery and allusions embedded in his writing, Cave added, “Atheism is bad for songwriting.” In conversing further with the woman, who said she was a former cult member still looking for answers in her life, he said, “That searching is in all my songs.”

Later, Cave added, “To be vulnerable is an incredible act of courage.” When asked what were his biggest fears, he said, “I’m afraid of people dying. … I’m not afraid of myself dying.” He admitted to being afraid of “climate change, A.I., nuclear war” and wanted to emphasize “how fragile life is and how quickly it can disappear.” Despite the sometimes heavy subject matter, Cave appeared to be in good spirits and said he was excited to play in Disney Hall. “It’s amazing, this place.”

He feigned outrage in relating how The Pogues’ Shane MacGowan once claimed that Cave had the voice of a crooner instead of a rock & roller, but Cave’s warm, low crooning on “Palaces of Montezuma” was so full and deep that it rumbled the resonant wooden floor at Disney Hall. The surreal, effusively romantic “Palaces of Montezuma,” by his group Grinderman, was contrasted by the bitter ruminations of “Far From Me,” a song about the end of his affair with PJ Harvey, from Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds’ 1997 album, The Boatman’s Call.

“I got a lot of songs out of Polly Harvey; I got an album out of it,” Cave said. “This song knew what was going on. … Songs have a greater intelligence than the people who write the songs.”

When complimented about his proficiency on keyboards and guitar, Cave politely disagreed. “I consider myself an imposter to music,” he said. “Warren Ellis [Cave’s musical partner in The Bad Seeds and Grinderman], he is everything. … I have a songwriter, lyrical, visual relationship to music. With Grinderman, we had to put everything in A-minor because it’s the only key I know.”

Even as questions led Cave to share anecdotes about his occasional celebrity encounters and musical inspirations, the impetus for Cave’s recent flood of productivity was never far from his mind. “When my son Arthur died, everything changed. … [Previously] I had an adversarial relationship with my music and my audience,” he said. “I just changed. I had to change. This is an act of survival,” he continued about how playing concerts helps him manage and focus his sadness. “The terrible beauty behind trauma is that you can become a better person. … It’s a very strange dynamic that happens.”

Remaining audience questions were alternately serious, lighthearted and downright bizarre, and Cave fielded them all dutifully. Some of the questions were more like testimonials and mini-speeches as fans basked in the glow of the singer’s attention and thanked him for how his works have helped them deal with their own traumas, losses, betrayals and disabilities. When asked about living in Los Angeles, Cave rhapsodized, “Coming to L.A. was enormously freeing for us. … I really love the openness of the people. I think L.A. people are genuine. … I live up in the hills. There’s all this nature … fucking hawks and skunks … and five minutes down on to Sunset Boulevard, and it’s like hell.”

A delicate piano introduction to “Jubilee Street” built momentum slowly into the exhilarating surge of chords and images that fly together in a mad, wide-eyed rush as Cave crowed mockingly and triumphantly, “Look at me now.” When asked about his rules for life, the singer said he wanted “to show people beautiful things. … It’s very easy to see the worst in life these days. I’ve seen too many embittered people.”

“I feel like I’m in the middle of something,” he said in response to a question about aging and mortality. “I don’t feel like a heritage act.” One woman inquired if Cave had ever been raped. A bit taken aback, he responded, “I haven’t been raped. I’ve been molested, but I come from a country town in Australia — everyone was molested.”

Cave, who famously covered The Cramps’ “People Ain’t No Good,” expressed his admiration for the late Lux Interior. “They were a big influence on me,” he marveled. “He was one of those outliers who went out into the unknown.”

Another fan thanked Cave for helping her deal with sadness and wanted to know if the singer had a favorite song or object, like a blankie, that brought him comfort. “My wife is my blankie,” Cave divulged. “She’ll kill me for saying that.” He edged closest to sweetness with a candied-sad remake of Jimmy Webb’s “Where’s the Playground, Susie?” “It’s like a comfort song for me,” he said.

Deep sadness turned to high comedy when a man down front wanted to know how fans were chosen to get to sit onstage (they were apparently selected at random). Cave invited the man onstage, and since there wasn’t an extra chair at the tables, the man sat next to the singer on the piano bench for the night’s last song, “Stagger Lee.” As Cave unfolded the ribald tale, the fan played along on air drums. The fan became so animated, acting out the lyrics and pointing a make-believe pistol, that Cave had to admonish him that “no interpretive dancing” was needed on the song. Not long after that, “Stagger Lee” — and the night of low words and heavy piano chords and mutual commiseration and shared raw tragedies — spun to a close.

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