The Cure 'Concert' (Fiction FIXH 10) ****1/2'I'm alive. I'm dead.' One of the grooviest existentialist albums of the year. Because having been accused of coming over all pretentious and meaningless, Smith now brings the Cure back on home with a live record of structurally straightforward enough rock music, with no overdubs but magnificent undertow.
Honest as 'The Top' was, this is more so, putting its faith in startling guitar lines to draw out the atmospheric twists of Robert's finest minutes. There are mere songs here which convey the human will's blind resistance to depression and ennui. The monochrome cover is lowly appropriate.
'10.15 Saturday Night' remains a personal favourite, but the truly haunting 'Charlotte Sometimes' could well be the arc of the dumbly-titled 'Concert'. A vast factor in what attracts people to a (too big to be a) 'cult' such as the Cure is the words. Why do so few of you grown-up music critics realise this? Anyway, if you can't appreciate a line like 'Sometimes I dream/Sometimes I stay the same", you ain't sometimes dreamed and sometimes stayed the same.
'Come to escape, he says, and Charlotte sometimes...' I'm not saying it's great, just that the delivery here gives it that sort of stature. At the same time, the root of the whole affair - animalism - is given its due. Cure songs don't rain 'cats' and 'dogs' by accident.
'One Hundred Years', 'A Forest', 'Primary' flow with an uncontrived but controlled anguish. 'Killing An Arab' closes a scratchily fresh live album, recorded in Oxford and London in May. For some of it I was there, so I should bloody well know, and I think I do. It's surreal thing.
- Chris Roberts