Faith, Hope and Carnage: Nick Cave & Seán O'Hagan book signing event – Waterstones, Leeds, 21/09/2022 1

Faith, Hope and Carnage: Nick Cave & Seán O’Hagan book signing event – Waterstones, Leeds, 21/09/2022

Faith, Hope and Carnage. The book of this title is the result of nearly 40 hours of numerous recorded telephone conversations that took place between Nick Cave and Seán O’Hagan from August 2020 until the summer of 2021. It is an intimate and extremely candid exploration of Cave’s life from his childhood to the present day, touching as it does so upon matters that range from loss, grief, vulnerability, and freedom to the kindness of strangers, as well as providing remarkable insights into the almost prescient elements of his songwriting processes.

To promote Faith, Hope and Carnage the two men – who have known each other for 30 years – set out on a book signing tour of the United Kingdom, taking in a total of eight cities in six days. We caught up with them in Leeds on the fourth leg of this tour and only a matter of hours after Cave and O’Hagan had been at another similar event across the Pennines in Manchester.

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Nick Cave & Seán O’Hagan book signing event in Leeds

Before arriving in Leeds, though, what had puzzled me most was why would this highly successful, financially secure singer, songwriter, leader and frontman of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, poet, lyricist, author, screenwriter, composer, and actor choose to embark upon such a venture, this seemingly mundane act of signing copies of scores upon scores of books. Yet as the evening progressed the answer to this question became abundantly clear. It was an unbridled desire on Cave’s part for him to connect with his audience, directly and in person.

Having bought a ticket for the event in advance this then entitled the bearer to one copy of the book and having it duly signed on the night by Messrs Cave and O’Hagan. We were advised quite clearly beforehand, though, that “there will unfortunately not be time for selfies or posed photos at the signing table, but photos will be permitted from the queue.”

But Nick Cave is not a man to be confined by either rules or convention, that much has been evident throughout his career from The Birthday Party in the late ‘70s right up to this point in time. As we inched through the shop and ever nearer to where the two men were positioned it became quite clear that Cave and O’Hagan had already dispensed with all such formalities. There was no table. And Cave was inviting folks to be pictured with him if they wanted to do so. Everyone, of course, did.

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Nick Cave & Seán O’Hagan book signing event in Leeds

This should all have come as no surprise to me had I thought more about Nick Cave’s live musical performances. During his shows with the Bad Seeds, he routinely submerges himself in the crowd, reaching out for their hands whilst singing his lyrics – invariably ‘The Weeping Song’ and ‘Stagger Lee’ – directly into their faces. He had also in the recent past toured the world with his one man show whereby he took unfiltered questions from the audience – often of a very searching and personal nature – between songs. And then there is his Red Right Hand Files website – named after a Bad Seeds’ song – where he states, “you can ask me anything…there will be no moderator.”

It is all geared towards Nick Cave interacting directly, openly, and personally with his audience, breaking down those barriers of emotional detachment and physical remoteness one often associates with those who are famous and in the public eye.

And this level of intimacy is reinforced when it comes to our turn to have our books signed. Having done so, Nick Cave then drapes his arms round our shoulders and turns to me and says, “Simon…oh, fuck.”

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Nick Cave & Seán O’Hagan book signing event in Leeds

Photos: Simon Godley

Some more photos from the Nick Cave & Seán O’Hagan book signing event in Leeds

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.