I recently saw The Cure live for the first time; and I’m in a rush to get those feelings, thoughts and memories onto proverbial paper before they escape. I’ve been a casual fan of the band. I enjoy many of their singles, and I greatly enjoy this album. In fact, I think it’s one of the greater albums of the 80’s. In the back of my head or maybe even in the forefront, I found Robert Smith’s histrionics, costume and oft labeled “goth pop” a little gimmicky and over the top for me. Now buckle up (as Smith did his chunky Bunkers). I hope your mom isn’t reading this because she will think I am ill for what I’m about to admit publicly…but I was wrong. Brazenly wrong. The concert, the band, and Robert Smith himself. Wrong about it all! This concert was one of the most amazing, emotional, vulnerable, effortful performances I’ve ever seen. Robert Smith may be one of the most mislabeled artists I’ve witnessed get this far into the mainstream. Playful, whimsical, funny, endearing, shy, joyful, appreciative and infectiously charming, Smith looked the part of his notorious gloom but brought nothing but light and happiness. I was spellbound by the show (thank you to the Prince of Plaquemines and his Royal Consort for the ticket).
What a well thought out performance from every player to the simplistic yet powerful LED lighting. I had never realized just how hard rocking and LOUD The Cure is. Sure that constant atmospheric synth is there, but the studio mixing does harm to the core sound and interpretation of the band which you can only truly understand live. New Orleans was the first stop on the US tour. The Smoothie King Center was close to sold out which is saying a lot for New Orleans (every other city was pretty much completely sold out, including 3 nights in LA). One would expect a spavined performance from what should be a spavined band but these Stones were still Rolling. Yes…that’s a dig. Robert Smith is 64 years old and sounds and plays just as strongly as if he were in his 30’s. His stability was wonderfully countered by the whirling dervish that is bassist, Simon Gallup. The set was fantastically tight and all were deep in the pocket. 75-90 minutes is the contracted norm these days but The Cure played 29 songs over 3 hours!
I’ll do my best to distill the crux of this album in one sentence: existential longing that captures the essence of heartbreak in a dark but rich atmospheric setting. Sounds pretty bleak right? But what if it’s truly just the opposite. What if it’s just a beautiful, happy take on what it means to be human? Well, that’s what I was examining as I actually got to know Robert Smith from afar (but not too far. We were practically on stage; another hat tip to the Shufords). From Disintegration, they played 4 of 12 tracks. “Pictures of You” “Lovesong” “Lullaby” and “Fascination Street” (a song Smith wrote about a drunken night on Bourbon Street oddly enough). They were all stunning. Sadly, I did not get to hear my favorite track off the album, its opener, “Plainsong.”
We are constantly drilled not to judge a book by its cover or an album by its press/promo stickers. However, jetsam platitudes like these become so commonplace that they become rote. Rarely do they actually change our perspective. We seem to have reached a point in society where we can only see things for what our initial perspective allows and that viewpoint becomes unbendable. Don’t do that. While I’m a fervent believer of discipline, systems and processes in some areas of life, the need for a malleable mindset is critically important. Disintegration is the only Cure album I currently own. I will now start to proCURE (I had to do it. I HAD TO DO IT!) the whole collection.
Favorite Tracks: “Plainsong” “Pictures of You” “Lullaby” “Fascination Street”
Pressing: Elektra Records. 60855-1. Original US Pressing. 1989.