On Friday I went to see Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. They gave a simply magnificent performance and were so loud that even two days later my ears are still ringing. Cave might be 50 but I don't think I've seen such an animated lead singer - the drink and drugs don't seem to have taken too much toll on him.
The centrepiece to the gig was the song 'We Call Upon the author' from the Bad Seeds' recent album (Dig!!! Lazarus Dig!!!, 2008). Clearly this is an important song in the ever increasing and impressive Cave discography - it also takes centre-stage on the album. Cave introduced the song by saying, 'This next song alone will be worth the entrance fee. Are you ready?' Then the band pulled out the best performance of the night - intense, frenzied and simply brilliant - actually worth every penny of The £27.50 ticket.
The song itself is challenging - musically - and certainly lyrically (see lyrics here). Now I've reflected long on hard on what this song represents for me. Firstly, the lyrics of the song ask serious questions about God. On Friday Cave literally screamed out the line - 'We call upon the author to explain!' Then he launched into this verse:
'Oh rampant discrimination, mass poverty, third world debt, infectious disease
Global inequality and deepening socio-economic divisions
Well, it does in your brain
And we call upon the author to explain'
Now this is where I want to make my point! You just don't get words like this in a church service - but I think we should. The Psalms are just full of questions for God - often angry questions from alienated voices. I would argue that it is an essential part of the worship experience to pose such questions - it actually affirms us as God's children, granted freewill to ask real questions of our Father. And this is why the songs we sing in church - ancient and modern - just do not cut it for me. That's why I have to listen people like Nick Cave. They simply provide a worship experience that I don't get in so called 'sacred' music. When I go to church I want some honest, down-to-earth collective 'worship' - that does not mean just telling God how great He is, it means opening our lives before him and admitting that sometimes we just don't get Him or what is happening in the world He created. On Friday during this song, Nick Cave took me to that place and I'm sure The Author was fine with that.