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In the five years since he and his longtime band The Bad Seeds released the marvelous, exclamation point-profligate Dig!!! Lazurus Dig!!!, gaunt Australian goth Nick Cave has shaved his alarming mustache, published a second novel, and made a second (and apparently final) album with Grinderman, The Bad Seeds’ louder, more feral subcommittee. The Bad Seeds reassemble on Push the Sky Away, a smoky midtempo simmer of an album that finds Cave back at the piano and feels unhurried even at a lean 42:30—in the twilight of the CD age, even boomers no longer feel obligated to make every album at least an hour long. The record’s still reflective, though: Two songs after “Jubilee Street,” Cave gives us a tune about the dream he had after writing that song in a number called “Finishing Jubilee Street.”
On March 20, Cave and the Bad Seeds will saunter into the Music Center at Strathmore—the region’s best-sounding room—to perform these songs along with, presumably, selections from their three-decade career. The Bad Seeds’ last area show, at the 9:30 Club in 2008, was a sweaty sternum-rattler with only a couple of ballads in the set. The change of venue should favor the more contemplative new material, allowing one to clearly discern lyrics like, say, the predictions of watery death for Miley Cyrus that concludes “Higgs Boson Blues,” and puzzle over them anew. Opener Sharon Van Etten, whose entire career has blossomed in the interval between Bad Seeds records, should sound amazing in that hall, too. 8 p.m. Sold out.