12/8/1979 Sounds (12-1-79 Durham, England Show Review)
Even The Bad Times Are Good The Cure: Durham
The Cure are searching.
Maybe they don’t know exactly what for. The Cure are finding. Maybe they don’t know exactly what. But what’s clear is that they happen.
Confusingly the new line up played even more hangdog songs than its predecessor (including a new number wryly labeled ‘Bleak One’) with such vibrant force and thrust that their audience at Durham Students Union was compelled to respond by dancing. A bad-time good-time band doesn’t sound possible.
The two opening songs presented their extremes. ’17 Seconds’. A death march drum, a wailing vocal and I couldn’t understand it at all. What goes on in the ’17 Seconds’? ‘Accuracy’. Immediately and conversely a portion of perfect clarity and acute insight on the destructive side of close relationships where self respect can be murdered with a cunning word. ‘We sit in the same room/Side by side/I give you the wrong lines/Feed you’. Precise music matched the idea. The cool blue surge of guitar and drums made you dance around the black story. It felt wrong-right but what can you do? Shake a leg now, ask questions later.
The ‘drip, drip, drip’ bit in ‘Saturday Night" was great with each word like a small bomb blowing up and so was the spelling-out-the-title bit in ‘Fire In Cairo’ - all-action substituting for solid subject matter quite acceptably. More new ones, ‘Play For Today’ and ‘Bleak One’. The surprise was their power and the regret, in the light of ‘Accuracy’, was their lack of verbal and musical clarity so you had momentum without shape in their less effective moments (probably not all blamable on acoustics, PA etc.).
They overcame this lapse though. Robert Smith advised two hecklers "If you don’t like it why don’t you get out!" Then the Cure pulled together into more and gripping new material. ‘M’ was compressive, a slow squeeze, the music rolling simply and Smith attacking the vocal with lungfulls of emotion. ’44 F’ was such a strong section of clipped, punchy rock ‘n roll instrumental that might even give them an atypical launch into the singles chart sometime.
They closed with their established faves and much rejoicing from the audience which showed how instantly they can make contact, because they had never played anywhere near Durham before.
The new boys? Simon Gallup fitted in on bass so you couldn’t see the join, whereas Matthew Hartley was less sure of what his keyboard might add to the Cure - but all four are convinced they’ll grow into it. Watch them grow.