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9/1/1985  No. 1 (9-14-85 Brighton, England Show Review)
In The Flesh
At The Cure In Brighton

Don’t get me wrong. I think the Brighton Center is a very nice place indeed, and if I ever had a conference I’d hold it right there.

It’s by the sea front for a start so while you’re standing outside waiting to get in you can enjoy the gale force winds teasing your hair.

When you do get in you have to admire the design. There are lots of nice, comfy seats around the balcony which leaves the floor space empty so you can stand, dance or generally just go bonkers.

BUT. As a place to go and see The Cure it’s just not right. Bands like U2 and Simple Minds are perfect for this type of arena, their music is big, loud and anthemic and it doesn’t take them long to have everybody singing along. The Cure aren’t that sort of band. Their tunes are decidedly off-beat, weird. You listen and you wonder; you definitely don’t scream. Their ideal venue would be in a disused broom cupboard in a house at least 200 years old. There’d be a family of bats snuggled in a corner and a vaguely disgusting smell.

Oh well, you can always imagine it...

I push my way to my seat, fending off cobwebs and wrinkling my nose (the broom cupboard, remember?) as The Cure come onto the stage. Robert Smith is just visible as a shaggy haired creature with a mop of black hair and a black suit.

The band push off with their New Order song, the swinging ‘Baby Screams’, with every knob full on. It’s loud and it stays loud, sometimes uncomfortably so.

In the past The Cure has flirted with various ways of providing visual stimulation. On the Primary Cure tour there was actually a weird home video flickering around behind them while the ‘Top’ tour last year featured all kinds of weird and wonderful images projected onto a large screen.

Now the Cure are going back to the basics, using just lights and smoke for effects - but very successfully.

At times, with dry ice billowing like a wall behind them and glowing a dozen different colors it’s as if they’re playing in a smoke-filled ruin. At other times they project stark silhouettes of themselves on to the wall behind - very effective.

They lyrics of Smith’s songs make the gloom of the hall seem very bright by comparison. With the new LP, ‘The Head On The Door’ again explores favorite subjects like screaming babies, hidden secrets, nightmares and strange deaths.

The mood of The Cure has always been downcast but still varied. There were the twee lovesick whimperings of the angst ridden youth on the ‘Boys Don’t Cry’ LP and the emotional explosion that was ‘Pornography’. All about experiences and feelings Smith has felt.

Tonight, though, with each instrument tearing at your senses, the overall feeling is one of aggression. These boys won’t cry ever again.

Smith is, of course, the focal point of the show, which is an amazing thing. Never before can there have been a person who does so little on stage and is revered so widely for it.

Robert’s idea of conversation between songs is to announce very nervously "Thank you... this is called ‘Cold’, " in a tiny little voice.

Most of his time onstage is taken up with standing in front of the microphone peering apprehensively into the crowd. He might, if we’re lucky, sneak back now and again to dab at his face with a towel, while you blink you’ll miss his mad, energetic dancing as he occasionally shakes a leg and does a little turn.

You can feel tired watching George Michael bounding round a stage. With Robert Smith you just want to go to sleep.

And yet. There is no doubting his charisma. The 2,000 or so people packed into this tiny little broom cupboard hang on to his every word and cheer his every movement.

Perhaps his is the charisma of someone who has no charisma at all and doesn’t know or care about it - and that has to be the best sort of all.

I didn’t actually see Robert Smith at any of the Bruce Springsteen concerts recently, but I’m sure he must have been there. He’s adopted one of the Boss’s habits, that of playing nearly half of the set as encores. The Cure’s show is nearly two hours long now and a lot of the set is unnecessary. ‘Screw’ from the current LP is one of the ugliest and worst songs Robert Smith has written but it’s in there, and taking up valuable space.

Cure audiences don’t get into quite the state of those fans who attend Springsteen concerts. During the encores many people are leaving, not because they don’t like it but because, well, they just can’t be bothered.

The set ends on a classic, ‘Killing An Arab’, still sounding brilliant after seven years and I’d say the Cure are still a group capable of murdering others when it comes to live work. At the moment, though, they play too many songs and sometimes not the right ones. Surely it’s better to leave your audience gasping for more rather than having them walking out on you because they don’t really care to hear another.

Even in Brighton...

- Paul Bursche


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