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Nick Cave’s intimate Idiot Prayer is more film than gig – Music Reads



Nick Cave’s new live film, Idiot Prayer, is a stark and bold showcase of his powers

Nick Cave walks through London’s stunning Alexandra Palace completely alone.

The venue’s emptiness is eerie as the camera tracks his journey to the stage, which is on the floor in the middle of the cavernous space.

A recording of him reciting ‘Spinning Song’, the opening song of last year’s Ghosteen, plays as he struts to his beautifully lit piano.

This first two and a half minutes is so stark and striking that you might not be adequately prepared for how it’s going to sound when he begins to play.

Spoiler: it sounds pretty damn great.

He launches into the film’s namesake ‘Idiot Prayer’ without much fuss and, across the next 90 minutes, proceeds to play stark solo renditions of songs from across his vast catalogue.

This is essentially it. On surface level, it’s a man and his songs, in a big old empty theatre. But the richness of Cave’s work, and the unique but simple concept of this film, offers plenty to think about.

The setlist

Without spoiling too much, fans of his stunning 1997 record The Boatman’s Call will be thrilled with Cave’s setlist selections. Those expecting a dose of 2000’s No More Shall We Part will be less so.

Each song feels precious in one way or another; the waltz of ‘Nobody’s Baby Now’ is classic, catchy and actually kinda cute. Frenetic favourite ‘The Mercy Seat’ is performed with such visceral intensity that only those without a pulse won’t be moved (or frightened) by it.

Speaking of intensity, ‘Jubilee Street’ builds to such an immense crescendo that one wonders whether even a band as great as the Bad Seeds could invoke chills like this.

Fellow recent favourite ‘Higgs Boson Blues’ is becoming even stranger and richer as the years go on – definitely a good thing – while ‘Stranger Than Kindness’ is stripped of its discomforting arrangement, but loses nothing in this more digestible format.

He revisits Grinderman songs ‘Palaces of Montezuma’ and ‘Man In The Moon’, and reminds us that Ghosteen was yet another career highlight as songs like ‘Waiting For You’ easily stand up alongside more familiar fare.

There is just one new song, ‘Euthanasia’. A brief but engrossing ballad that is as exciting for its quality as its suggestion that Cave may soon be ready to release more music.

The film

The prospect of staring at a man playing piano for 90 minutes mightn’t delight everyone. But the quality of the visual stimulus – a warm, changing light on Cave’s face, sheet music scattered at the feet of his stool, glistening shots of his grand piano – make up for the lack of quantity.

Cinematographer Robbie Ryan treated Cave’s performance with the kind of discernment it deserves. The occasional sweeping shot or intense close-up feel far more effective than the dizzying, choppy madness that other recent streamed shows have fallen victim to.

Cave doesn’t introduce any songs, he lets big, bold titles do that for him. He doesn’t address his audience, instead behaving as if he’s entirely alone.

It’s hard to separate this lonely figure Cave cuts from the current world climate.

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In 2020, we’ve all used the word isolation more times than ever before, and it’s not a word you necessary want to exercise all that often.

One could read into this focused presentation of the performance countless ways.

Some may argue that it’s simply pretentious for a man and his songs to command so much time and so much space. To demand the entire spotlight. But anyone who considers it as such is probably not a Nick Cave fan, and would relish the chance to see their favourite artist make a film as intimate and beautiful as this.

The emptiness could symbolise the power of poetry in the face of solitude. The idea that words, music and art can offer comfort when no one or nothing else is.

It could be a purely visual decision. The sight of an empty theatre can arouse both sorrow and a kind of magical feeling; offering memories of what once was and the promise of what still could be.

Or maybe Nick Cave just liked the way his songs sounded at his solo shows and wanted it captured.

One thing is certain, Idiot Prayer is not a replication of the live concert experience. This feels like a film, not a gig.

With so many of us deeply missing communal musical gatherings, it’s fair to yearn for a realistic replication of a live show.

But perhaps we need to come to terms with the fact that no living room broadcast will compare to sitting in a theatre or standing in a pub, watching, hearing and feeling the magic of performance firsthand.

So, the fact that Idiot Prayer goes the other way – offering a more cinematic experience than a mere fly on the wall portrayal of an artist and their work – makes it a more engrossing property.

When Nick Cave finishes playing ‘Galleon Ship’, he pauses, stands, and walks towards the light. He is gone, all is quiet, the moment is over. We are alone.

Idiot Prayer is both a very simple and very ambitious film, and yet another triumph in a career already packed with them.

Idiot Prayer screens Thursday 23 July at 8pm AEST. More details here.

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Here’s how you can turn your volunteering gig into paid work




We talk to Volunteering Australia for some tips 

It’s no secret that volunteering can be a great way to give back to your community and a cause you’re passionate about, make friends, and broaden your networks and skillbase.

There’s also a chance that with a bit (or a lot) of hard work, time, and passion, your volunteering job can turn into paid work. 

But is there a right and a wrong way to go about doing this? We asked the CEO of Volunteering Australia, Mark Pearce, for some advice. 

Volunteer more than once 

It’s important to keep in mind that giving one random day of your time to a charity probably won’t land you an instant job. These things take a level of personal investment, so find a volunteering opportunity you enjoy, and stick to it.  

“Potential employers will view an ongoing volunteering role as having more likely impacted on skills development and work experience,” Pearce says. 

Be on the lookout for opportunity

Staying open minded about your experience as a volunteer is critical. If you go in expecting to get paid at the end of it, you’ll probably be disappointed. Instead, Pearce says you should keep your eyes and ears open for new contacts or opportunities that will help you find an entry point into the organisation. 

“Job seekers need to be mindful of the potential opportunities to gain work experience or to develop skills as part of the volunteering experience,” he explains.  

View it as a chance for self development 

The job market is particularly competitive at the moment and it’s easy to feel defeated when you’ve been knocked back from all the jobs you’re applying for. 

But volunteering comes with a whole range of benefits and can help you feel more motivated, confident and industrious when looking for work.

“Volunteering may assist in ‘levelling the playing field’ for individuals who typically have a more difficult time finding employment, especially during a recession or if lacking experience in a particular industry or role,” Pearce says. 

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Finding health insurance a headache for gig workers | Mid-Missouri News




COLUMBIA – When Amy Crousore decided to become a full-time musician 3 years ago, she never imagined a pandemic would dry up her business.

Now, 8 months into the global health crisis, Crousore is reflecting on the struggles of the gig industry.

“Everything shut down and there was just no back up for us,” she said.

She said many of her colleagues were already taking day jobs before the pandemic just so they could receive health insurance.

Crousore has also taken up a job as a caretaker to make ends meet until venues reopen.

“We compared about 12 different healthcare plans,” she said. “I considered whether I would have to take a loan to pay for a more expensive plan.”

Health insurance is a headache Jason Gruender and Jen Wheeler know well.

Gruender manages Liberty Family Medicine with his wife, a doctor.

Wheeler manages Big Tree Medical Home with her husband, also a doctor.

Both clinics operate through unconventional business models that are less reliant on traditional insurance plans. Instead, you pay for a membership or one-time fees.

“We believe in our model, and it’s working well across the nation, and it’s working well here in Columbia,” Wheeler said.

Gruender is also confident in his clinic.

“I think we have a broken health care system,” he said. “The clinic is not a complete solution to that problem, but it’s a step in the right direction.”

As the world navigates a pandemic, the path to affordable health care has been riddled with troubles.

Crousore worries necessities like health care will alter the landscape of the music industry.

“Do you want there to be nobody you can call to play for your wedding because everybody is working 40 hours a week to get insurance,” Crousore asked. “What kind of world do you want?”

Gruender and Wheeler also said choosing a health insurance plan is an important decision that should be given lots of thought.

Enrollment through the Affordable Care Act is open right now and closes Dec. 15. There are other enrollment periods for special life events, such as getting married.

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Pendulum swings back to break lockdown lull with hometown New Year’s gig




“During the whole lockdown thing it’s been kind of hard to put an original stamp on a set or a piece of live music; everyone’s been playing from their living rooms, everyone’s playing next to the f—ing fridge, so we had to come up with something new.”

The end result, an hour-long live-streamed performance at Spitbank Fort, was broadcast in October and also heralded the drum ‘n’ bass outfit’s first new material in a decade; the double-A side Driver/Nothing For Free.

Not being able to perform live has other pitfalls; even with their show at Spitbank Fort and a well-received global release, the group’s new material still hasn’t been tested in front of crowds.

“When we’re getting ready to release something always a huge component of it is playing it to small audiences, or sometimes even big audiences, and getting a lot of feedback from that, especially when it comes to Rob doing final mixdowns and stuff,” McGrillen said.

“That’s one thing we’ve definitely missed.”

Pendulum will be able to break free from the bonds of live-streaming soon and give crowds a full dose of new music with a homecoming headline slot at Perth’s Origin Fields New Year festival.

Billed as ‘Pendulum Trinity’ the group’s founding members – Swire, Gareth McGrillen and Paul ‘El Hornet’ Harding – are the first headliners announced alongside Australian house heavyweight Dom Dolla.

Based in the UK, McGrillen and Swire are very much ready to “do the whole quarantine thing” and fly to Perth to join Harding, who lives in the group’s hometown. With coronavirus cases soaring around the world, it seems there’s nowhere else they’d rather be.

“Perth’s the safest place in the world right now,” McGrillen said.

It’s been a long time between drinks on the new music front, with Swire and McGrillen splitting off to form the electro/bass-driven Knife Party after Pendulum’s last album, Immersion, was released in 2010.

Pendulum shows continued, primarily driven by Harding, and when live shows returned in 2016, so did the ideas for new music under the Pendulum banner.

As with anything released in 2020, it’s tempting to read into the new tunes as inspired by the trash-fire year that was, but Swire said the roots of Driver/Nothing For Free came as early as 2016.

“I think current events might have added 20 per cent angst to the sound,” he said.

“Ten years is a nice round number and I sort of feel if you get away longer than that, you may as well not bother … we’d been doing the Knife Party thing for about 10 years, we always feel like switching it up.”

And while 2020 marks the first new Pendulum music in a decade, it is also another milestone; 15 years since the group’s explosive debut album, Hold Your Colour.


The release still holds a special place for fans and the group alike – “the tracks on it still feel kind of magic,” Swire said – but at the time the trio didn’t know whether they had a hit or a flop on their hands.

“It was a weird time for us, we’d only been in England for about two years when we wrote it. In retrospect, it’s kind of the sound of culture shock and sleep deprivation,” Swire said.

“I think the first time we knew this whole thing had some longevity to it was when we made the next album (2008’s In Silico).

“We sort of switched the style and it still works and we thought, ‘Well, we’re onto something’, because we’ve brought all these new fans in who don’t even like drum ‘n’ bass.”

There’s a temptation, listening to Driver/Nothing For Free, to draw parallels between the tracks and the distinct styles between Pendulum’s earlier releases.

Driver, as the name suggests, is a fast-paced drum ‘n’ bass anthem; a heavy, rolling beat setting the pace for buzzsaw basslines interspersed with breakbeat clatters. Nothing For Free, on the other hand, features sing-along hooks rising to a rocking, headbanging crescendo, reminiscent of the outfit’s later albums.

So, is this a conscious effort? Or a by-product of almost two decades producing forward-thinking, genre-blending electronic hits?

The latter, largely.

Swire and McGrillen agreed they never intended to follow their earlier work too closely, but when inspiration strikes, well, sometimes it just pans out that way.

“It somehow just organically falls into either [style]; you get a sense halfway through, you get a sense like, ‘This sounds like kind of a Hold Your Colour tip’, or you can tell it’s a new style,” Swire said.

Pendulum will perform at Langley Park on Perth’s foreshore on New Year’s Eve. Tickets and information at

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