8/9/1996 Las Vegas Review - Journal (8-9-96 Las Vegas, Nevada Show Review)
The Cure Alternative Rockers Not All Doom And Gloom
What recently happened on The Cure’s tour bus that they don’t want you to see?
Sacrificing goats? Or merely some brooding poetry readings?
"What we were doing is very far removed from the popular image of the band," bass player Simon Gallup says. "We got a really sort of hack disco tape and disco-danced the whole journey."
But this is The Cure we’re talking about, the group that’s supposed to be gloomy and soul-searching. While they dispute that notion, they’re not going to get too carried away, either. There were photos taken on the bus," Gallup says, "but they’ve been, um..."
"Yeah," he says with a laugh.
Still, The Cure that visits Thomas & Mack Center today is not mired in the image it has held since the early 80’s, when gawky frontman Robert Smith became such a symbol for the lonely misfit that film director Tim Burton modeled "Edward Scissorhands" on his distinctive black leather clothing and runaway mop of hair.
A recent record store appearance in San Jose, Calif., was "really bizarre," Gallup allows. "People would come up and say, ‘I didn’t think you’d say hello,’" Another offered, "You seem quite happy.’"
"We don’t sit in a room with black candles," he insists. And yet their concerts will always draw "a contingent of people with the white face paint on and black (clothing)," he says. "These people tend to recognize each other in a crowd because of the very way they look. I think it’s quite endearing, really."
The "gothic" crowd that embraced The Cure and early tour mates Siouxsie And The Banshees "see Robert as an image," but it’s one he never has courted, says Gallup, who, with 14 years under his belt, is Smith’s longest-tenured colleague in the British band known for turnover.
You won’t see Smith in white-face or black nail polish, he says. "He only wears, like, this smeared lipstick."
(A band synonymous with its frontman has its positives and negatives for the other members. Though few may care about the others’ contributions, Gallup concedes, "I’m not really in it to impress anyone or because I want recognition. I’m in it because I like the band." Besides, "When we get to hotels, the rest of us just walk straight in and Robert has to sign autographs and things.")
The title of this 10th studio album, "Wild Mood Swings," tips off the fact that The Cure no longer is rooted in the atmospheric, synthesized pop of "Boys Don’t Cry" and "Let’s Go To Bed," which first intrigued college students in the early ‘80s. Some songs featured strings, while others resonate with jazz, world rhythms and psychedelic influences.
But mediocre sales of the new album - which is gold (500,000 units) after three months on the charts - show how things have changed since the band’s last U.S. tour four years ago. What once was called "alternative rock" has become the musical mainstream, and pioneers such as Siouxsie and The Cure are now seen as the old guard compared to new British bands such as Oasis and Bush.
"It’s quite nice to say (the album) was done in a defiant way, but the truth is it wasn’t because we’re always sort of oblivious to what people say about us," Gallup says. "We were sort of locked in a house while we were doing it. ...So we didn’t have much idea of what was going on in the outside world."
The Cure rented actress Jane Seymour’s mansion in Bath while she was stateside taping "Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman." Since the lineup changed after the 1992 tour - with a new drummer in Jason Cooper and former keyboardist Roger O’Donnell rejoining Smith, Gallup and utility musician Perry Bamonte - the house offered a chance to collaborate without the deadline pressure of expensive studio recording.
"The record was originally going to be called ‘Bare’, with just Perry, Robert and myself playing on it, and (the whole album) was going to be like the song ‘Bare,’ just sparse with strings," Gallup explains.
But when the band members came to the table with songs they had been working on separately, "We had such a diverse selection of songs we thought it would be really stupid not to use them just because we wanted to make an album in a certain way."
At the same time it was recording, the band rehearsed nearly 80 songs for its current tour, and the shows are running 2 ½ hours long. "If you put in one song, then someone else says, ‘Why can’t we do that one?’ It sort of just grows," Gallup says.
Atmospheric lighting and a set depicting a dilapidated amusement park further The Cure’s reputation for powerful live shows.
"Not just on this tour but on every tour, before we go onstage, Robert says ‘Well, this is the last time in Portland (Ore.),’ that’s because "we always try to make every show like it’s our last show. We never know how long the band’s going to go on. What happens is the gap between when we do things just gets longer and longer until one day we’ll be dead or something."