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8/1/1989  Unknown Source (8-28-89 Toronto, Canada Show Review)
The Cure/Love And Rockets/The Pixies/Shelleyan Orphan
CNE Grandstand, Toronto

It was a long, long haul - five hours to be exact.

This was no festival, just a regular stadium show with "extras", to make it more appealing to low-income teens.

First called to the stand, the CNE Grandstand that is, was an unexpected fourth act, Shelleyan Orphan, announced as personal favourites of Robert Smith. In order to be tacked onto this originally scheduled triple-bill, the sextet had to take the stage before the 7pm ticket time.

Obviously only those kids whose streetcar had arrived early were there to hear them. And that wasn't very many at all (our public transportation system rarely arrives early). In addition to this, the sound was bogus. Neither offence was the band's fault. No sound check, probably another band's soundperson, and playing before anyone was supposed to be there, does not make an ideal performing situation. So what could've been a neat, off-beat debut was muddied and discordant. Such are the tales and woes of an opening band.

Boston's Pixies were up next. They too had few witnesses and "support act" sound problems. Bassist Kim Deal told me the next day that they canned their soundman that evening. But putting all that aside, The Pixies conquered and kept our heads spinning to Black Francis' hop scotch vocals, out-and-out screaming ("Debaser") to dead-pan talking ("Monkey Gone To Heaven"), underscored by the band's twisting, turning, even stopping, kitchen sink accompaniment. Their pixy-perfect set of slightly warped songs, taken mainly from "Doolittle", commanded the attention of the Cure-clone-clad kids, if only because they hadn't ever heard anything quite so bent. But the biggest clatter the crowd made during the half-hour was for Smith and co. (Mary) as they traipsed across the field to eye The Pixies nearer the stage.

At 8:10pm Love And Rockets were on trial. And by this time the 21,000 jurers who had seeped into the stadium while our backs were turned, were all in favour of the British trio (you Brits have a profound effect on our youth). Love and Rockets' mix of blues, industrial, psychedelic and rock is far more palatable on vinyl than stage, but the kids didn't find it monotonous at all and said so - shrilly, at the end of every song.

The Cure now, in their 12th year with 11 albums and millions in sales behind them, at last have the resources to put on a live presentation to complement their drowsy pop. Call them "Floyd surrogates for the modern teen". It's true. Kids puffed on dubes and sat mesmerized by a sculptured light show which was on par with Floyd or Genesis.

For two-and-a-half hours, it didn't matter that the band members put no more into their material's live execution than they had in the past. There was something else to watch other than Smith, all ratted hair and red smeered lipstick, wandering about the stage. "The Walk", "Inbetween Days", "Close To You", "The Lovecats", and "Killing An Arab" were highlighted like never before by streams of colours, kaleidescopic patterns, and strobes. The new songs, almost everything from the recent "Disintegration" album by the three-encore-end, were enchanting under a spectrum of hazy clouds and breathless designs, not morose like their vinyl counterparts.

These days, Robert Smith seems to be subscribing to the adage "quit while you're ahead". The singer, guitarist, songwriter, and the "the" in The Cure, rules this the last Cure tour, ever. And if that's true, then Smith is certainly kicking dirt over a musical body in its prime.

- Karen Bliss

 

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