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9/22/1979  Sounds (9-6-79 Aberdeen, Scotland Show Review)
A Twinkle In The Eye Of The Eighties
The Cure: Aberdeen, Scotland

This gig with the Cure supposedly supporting the Banshees had a somewhat surprising outcome which you’ll have to read about last week in this journal but lest we forget when, hopefully, this tour resumes a lot of people will realize what I’ve seen the audiences at the Reading Festival and Aberdeen Capitol find out recently: that the Cure are arriving and on a fast train.

At Reading they were allotted the stage confronting the Motorhead brigade. In Aberdeen the majority must have been Siouxsie followers. The surprise of the Cure’s triumph over both factions might be compared to discovering the inhabitants of Mars and Saturn happen to speak the same language.

To put it succinctly they put it succinctly. The Cure are reviving the ancient punk ethic of saying what you’ve got to say and then stopping. Not being of a verbose nature this means two to three-minute songs. However, the content has come a long way from the thrash of ’77. Their music owes more to the jarring precision of Talking Heads than anarchy in the UK, though I’m really taking the names in vain because the Cure’s individual style doesn’t invite comparisons.

They used ’10.15’ as a soundcheck and even that got rapturous applause from the Aberdonians. I started to get the message with ‘Accuracy’, which could be their theme song. It was short, insistent, not pretty. As sort of stiffness to it within a pattern of vigorous movement. Robert Smith played fast, pulsing guitar but his vocal line took the slow, lurching rhythm of Lol Tolhurst’s drums. ‘Grinding Halt’ brought the rushing, bumping impetus to its height with Tolhurst showing that syndrums need not be the band of the nations’ music-loving youth by extracting some huge sibilances from them which added a lot of breadth to the trio’s sound.

The pieces I liked best were ‘Subway Song’, ‘Plastic Passion’, ‘Killing An Arab’, and ‘Play For Today’ (a first live performance for that one). The no-no on the night was Hendrix’s ‘Foxy Lady’ which they ballsed-up in all departments while their own ‘Boys Don’t Cry’ was in rather mopey pop territory I wouldn’t like to see them explore much further.

If any element of the group seemed ripe for further development now it’s probably Robert Smith’s singing which tended to lack identity beyond the standard New Wave whine-yowl hiccup. Neatly done mind, but I suspect he’s got more of himself to put in there now the band has all the basics to be fine-tuned.

The Cure are a twinkle in the eye of the Eighties. When the Banshees tour is pieced together don’t short-change yourself - get there early for the ‘special guests’.

- Phil Sutcliffe


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