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5/16/1981  Melody Maker (5-4-81 Hammersmith Odeon, England Show Review)
Taking The Cure With A Drip Feed
The Cure: Hammersmith Odeon, London 12-3-81

Up on stage the band were engaged in the fine art of performance, down in the stalls everyone was standing in front of their seats in a rapturous trance.

That’s right, standing up for a stereo-headphone-and-reclining-chair job like the Cure!

I only had to look at lead Curist Robert Smith to get irritated... the way he stood motionless in inky shadow at the left of the stage, the way he’d carefully selected dark garb to match the grey "mood" of the music that was being stolidly painted in washed out watercolours, even the way his stupidly teased hair stood on end like a bushbaby plugged into the mains.

Most of all, though, I was annoyed by the whingeing voice he continually affected, grating through each song as if this was his idea of what a concerned young man ought to sound like. One of the songs actually contained the line "drip, drip, drip, drip...", which must have been tempting fate.

As if this wasn’t enough, Smith’s roadie must have accidentally jammed his flanger-chorus gadget thingy, so that the thing couldn’t be turned off. Now dreamy ripples of guitar can sound attractive when used thoughtfully, but when used all evening they soon become a painful bore, turning every song into a samey wash.

The whole thing wasn’t exactly helped along by bassist Simon Gallup and drummist Lol Tolhurst, who played so cleanly they must have scrubbed down before walking on stage. Now accuracy, sure, but where was the fire, the spark, the commitment? Only their latest single, "Primary", came across with anything that approached real human emotion.

The last time the Cure were at this venue, supporting the Banshees, they played with a sense of verve that turned the introversion of their records into a more attacking mould.

Nowadays they seem more concerned with transferring their increasingly precious vinyl sound to stage, a pretty pointless exercise. Maybe they’ll change, I don’t know. The way this lot are going at the moment they’re more of an anaesthetic than a cure.

- Lynden Barber


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