7/12/1980 Sounds (5-4-80 Edinburgh, Scotland Show Review)
The Cure: Edinburgh
Against all my preconceptions and hopes (didn’t I see the same band deliver a blistering set only weeks ago?), I begin to understand Dave McCullough’s assertion that the Cure are the new Genesis. It was a claim that I’d originally found bewildering and I had staunchly countered it with memories of the tense coiled tautness that pervades such songs as ‘Killing An Arab’ or ‘Subway Song’. No, the Crawley combo may well be cultured and crafted, but that doesn’t make them bland.
Their studied approach encompasses an attempt to broaden the appeals of both esoteric extraordinary failure of the veritable pop (‘Boys Don’t Cry’) and the welcome surprise of the hypnotic ‘A Forest’ as a chart smash. But do today’s rebels always become tomorrow’s establishment and where is the dividing line drawn?
‘A Forest’ itself is a point in question, being to my mind - a classic insidious masterpiece of understated drama never resorting to obvious ploys for effect. Superficially, it enhances the Genesis comparison but further investigation vindicates the Cure as among the forefront of the new breed of bands to combine elements of the punk attitude with a greater degree of musical sophistication. Continually steering away from the cliched and trite, they do however succumb twice to gimmickry of sorts - the stunning synth-drum barrage on ‘Jumping Someone Else’s Train’ and the annoying complacency at the end of ‘Grinding Halt’.
That aside, the Cure’s show - and a show it most decidedly is, featuring all the singles - is based on an assured control over their instruments, their material and their audience. Vocalist and main-man Robert Smith maintains an unruffled calm, taking everything in his stride as would a man on a Sunday afternoon stroll.
Gone is a certain amount of the pent-up frustration I witnessed at the claustrophobic gig at Valentino’s recently, when the Cure almost personified teenage angst and self-doubt. Perhaps they’ve matured overnight (or maybe it’s just the atmosphere of the seated venue this time), but keyboardist Mathieu Hartley is especially listless, wandering off-stage for a cigarette during those songs to which he does not contribute. Only Simon Gallup (on bass, leather jacket and youth rebellion) carries the day convincingly.
But it’s two encores to a capacity audience (with an afghan coat here and there!) and I’m only quibbling because I know how good the Cure can be. This was not their best, and I hope (for their sakes as well as mine) that it’s only a temporary fault. The Cure are too vital to mellow out so young.