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5/8/1982  Sounds (4-20-82 Bristol, England Colston Hall Show Review)
Conceptual Error
The Cure
Colston Hall
Bristol

The art of meaningful entertainment is probably not best served by starting an evening with an ill illuminated and badly focussed amateur movie, but unfortunately it's the sort of thing you expect of the Cure. Hopelessly arty and introspective these three imaginary boys may be, but I'd always liked them a lot until I saw them live

In our house we tend to play Cure albums in the early hours when the conversation's not quite dead or the booze has all gone. The mood is relaxed and reflective and the Cure's music matches it, a salient throbbing background sound. But in person, they bored the ass off me.

The Cure are in danger of becoming the Floyd of the 80's, whereby the performer is reduced to a distant shadow while the concept takes over. Whoever did the lights are worth every penny of their doubtlessly large fee, magnificent yet simple with immaculate use of spots, three screens and a bit of back projection, all made to look like there's nothing to it but with an almost Close Encounters type exhilaration inbuilt.

I started to feel strange almost as soon as the band came on. There was an adulatory rush to the front, everyone stood up in their seats and I wondered why. The Cure's music is passive rather than aggressive. You can't dance to it, yet here we all are on our feet. A feeling of absurdity overcame me as the spots suddenly worked against them and lit up the audience better than the house lights. Here we all stood like tombstones, like extras in Doctor Who, hypnotised by this week's bad guy and unable to give up the illusion - trapped.

With no release, I'm afraid. The Cure's sound is almost as self-parodying as Status Quo's. Every song has the unmistakeable stamp of identity on it, which is pretty much like saying that a lot of them sound the same. You get a hypnotic and unvariable beat with economic heavy sustain bass, intricate frazzled guitar and mercifully echoed vocals. It varies somewhat (synth and tapes etc) but in essence that's the Cure and you either take it or butt out.

I was for leaving, but duty and the lights held me till the encores. Sitting somewhat detached from the general acclaim by now I noticed that songs from 'Three Imaginary Boys' were the best received. 'Saturday Night' even had them bobbing with the rhythm and reciting the words. Maybe they felt like me, enjoying anything familiar just to keep the circulation going and the first album did seem to be the liveliest of the lot.

I imagine most of this crowd went home and analysed this gig for meaning and intent, technical ability, and artistic interpretation and gave them a good score. I'll still play them in the wee small hours, but highlights of our time they are not.

- RAB

 

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