Although it was set in a Berlin populated by humans as well as angels, Wim Wenders’ classic 1989 film Wings of Desire introduced many of its viewers (including me) to a couple of terrific bands originally from Australia: Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds — and a group with similarly Gothic and powerfully brooding music, Crime and the City Solution. Both bands contributed songs to the wonderful soundtrack and appeared in memorable concert scenes filmed in Berlin nightclubs, including this one:
While Nick Cave has gone on to become an icon, Crime and the City Solution broke up after releasing four albums, ending up as more of an obscure cult favorite. The group’s getting some new recognition now, however, thanks in part to a new collection from the Mute label, A History of Crime: Berlin 1987-1991: An Introduction to Crime and the City Solution, and a reunion tour, which brought Crime’s current lineup to Chicago’s Lincoln Hall on Sunday (Oct. 21).
According to the Chicago Reader, lead singer Simon Bonney lives these days in Detroit. The lineup that he has assembled for the new Crime and the City Solution includes two musicians from the band’s Berlin era, violinist Bronwyn Adams and guitarist Alexander Hacke (also of Einsturzende Neubauten). They are joined by guitarist David Eugene Edwards (of Wovenhand and 16 Horsepower), bassist Troy Gregory (who has played with the Dirtbombs, Swans and Spiritualized), keyboardist Matthew Smith, the always-superb drummer Jim White (a member of The Dirty Three who’s played with Cat Power and Nina Nastasia) and Danielle de Picciotto on visuals.
Bonney’s baritone sounded as dramatic ever as he sang his verbose lyrics, occasionally turning for help to a stack of laminated lyric sheets sitting on the stage in front of him. (Can’t remember his own words? Hey, he wrote a lot of words.) His bandmates encircled him on the stage, playing with a smoldering intensity. The old songs sounded fresh, and the band also played a couple of sharp tunes from a new album, American Twilight, which is set to come out next spring.
Here’s one of the new songs, “My Love Takes Me There”:
My photos from Sunday’s show, which also included an opening set by Bobby Conn: