The Cure

support The Twilight Sad
author HES date 14/10/16 venue Forum, Copenhagen, DEN

Formed in the late 1970s, The Cure spearheaded the echo-heavy post-punk movement in the coming decade. Albeit many bands helping shape the genre, The Cure struck a chord with the mainstream market and made gothic “chic”, and having inspired thousands of bands musically as well as aesthetically, it’s fair to call the band one of the most influential bands not only in rock, but music in general. Tonight this also shapes an audience made up of almost every age group — from soccer moms wearing their old leather jackets with The Cure crudely written on the back with a correction marker to pre-20s, alternatively-inclined vinyl-listeners. Unfortunately, as it usually is in the giant concert hall of Forum, it is not anywhere near full as the lights dim for a warm-up act in the shape of the Scottish Twilight Sad.

All photos courtesy of Lykke Nielsen

The Twilight Sad

The last time that I saw The Twilight Sad was at their Copenhagen show in 2015, but the distance is great from Loppen’s 200-cap venue to even a halfway filled Forum. The show at Loppen was great and you would think this to be a precursor to a great show tonight, but I’ve learned my lesson: opening for big bands in Forum is a post of Uriah. You’re basically sending the band to battle in a position where they can only die. However, The Twilight Sad decides to do this with their head held high and deliver their dense shoegaze/post-punk blend as they would at any other gig. Eccentric vocalist James Graham seems to still go in and out of trance as he dominates the stage with wild gestures and perilous dancing.

James Graham of The Twilight Sad

The show is dominated by tracks from the band’s latest release “Nobody Wants to be Here and Nobody Wants to Leave”, including the rhythmic “There’s a Girl in the Corner", the catchy “I Could Give You All You Don’t Want" and the synth-laden, dystopian “Last January". However, the band’s introverted sound fails to translate to the audience and merely works as a well-chosen soundtrack for excited talks about the main act of the evening. It’s not really the fault of The Twilight Sad, but rather a combination of the not-so-intimate setting of Forum and our general culture of disregarding warm up acts. The band makes a better effort than most, but it still ends up being a pretty flat 30-minute experience in the dark.


The Cure

The Cure supposedly practiced an impressive 97 songs in preparation for this tour and according to the official press estimates, tonight’s show is to be three hours long. Looking at previous setlists, the band has played around 34 songs per night so far, which not only is a pretty daunting feat for the by now elderly band members, but also means that these shows are reverse Russian roulettes with around a ⅓ chance for catching the bullet: hearing that one song that basically shaped your teenage experience. On top of that, The Cure is also a very “era-defined" band, meaning you’ll probably be into either the band’s late 70s to early 80s gothic era, the mid-to-late 80s commercial bubblegum era, the return to gothic on “Disintegration”, a connoisseur of the late 90s, “Bloodflower” period, or just in it for the singles. All of this makes for a show that could go either completely your way or perhaps not your way at all. As the lights dim, the dice have been thrown.

The show gets off to a great start with the cinematic “Plainsong" which has a long, poetic, instrumental opening with cones of lights embracing the stage, casting shades of the band members on the black curtains on both sides of the stage. The band follows up with another crowd favourite in “Pictures of You" also off “Disintegration” — which seems to be a theme at first, given the band also adds “Closedown" to tonight’s setlist. The show is already off to a great start, but it continues on the trajectory with the enjoyable bubblegum “High" from “Wish” sporting beautiful uplifting blue skies projected on the giant srceen-backdrop. But the inconsistency starts showing itself as the band somehow thought “The Walk" was worth playing — a horrible mid-80s dance-inspired rarity. “Push" is a somewhat enjoyable experience as is “Sinking", but “Inbetween Days" (all off “The Head on the Door") comes off as the superior track in that relation.

Robert Smith of The Cure

The energy seems to vary greatly over the middle part of the show, which consists of the less introspective “The End of the World" impacted by an overall problem of most synths completely disappearing in the sound mix. “Lovesong" off tonight’s “Disintegration”-themed playlist receives less interest from the crowd than I would have expected, but the subsequent “Last Day of Summer" seems to capture the mood of the weather outside as well as Robert Smith’s sound-defining clear, blue guitar sound. That is followed by another 80s rarity in the shape of the mediocre (yes, I said it) “Charlotte Sometimes". And in spite of being one blasted for years in my teenage room, the following “Just Like Heaven" seems oddly out of place in the so far pretty moody set. “From the Edge of the Deep Green Sea", “Prayers for Rain" and “Disintegration" round up a quite dark set with very few blockbuster ‘hits’.

This makes for the first part of the show, as the band ceremoniously leaves the stage to then return minutes later. The first encore is dominated by a weird collection of songs from some of the more unpopular releases with “Want" off “Wild Mood Swings" and “Burn" from the soundtrack to an unimportant 90s movie, a new song “Step into the Light" and lastly a personal favourite in “A Forest”, with a literal backdrop from “Seventeen Seconds". Once again the band leaves, waits for a second and returns for another encore — this time dominated by two of the tracks from “The Top", an otherwise not very beloved release, and compilation originals “Never Enough" and “Wrong Number". Both of the first encores seem very “non-encore" in their build up with “Fascination Street" and “A Forest" being the only two songs the majority of the audience is able to pick up on. I do however think that this set is a party for the more dedicated fans — getting their money’s worth of songs you don’t expect a band with this kind of roster to be playing.

The third and final encore differs by being almost solely dominated by some of the most cutesy songs The Cure has written: “Friday I’m in Love", “Boys Don’t Cry", “Close to Me" and “Why Can’t I be You". Only “Lullaby" sticks out with that weirdness that this scribe personally prefers in The Cure — something that is present in most of their releases, but curiously not so much in this set. This almost unbearable sweetness rounding off a show that has been mainly gloomy and gothic creates a strong contrast and makes it seem like most of the crowd has basically been waiting two hours for this, and are only just getting return for their investment now. It makes the experience of the last half our very juxtaposed and split up. On top of that, the aforementioned problems with high-pitched synths disappearing from the soundscape also butchers the otherwise enjoyable, albeit corny songs.

At the end of the show I’m mostly left confused by the collection of songs the band decides to play tonight. It does actually seem very random and unintentional apart from the intended, fireworks-y third encore. Most of all, I feel cheated out of a lot of songs I would’ve traded happily for some of the oddities and rarities. Just to mention a few: “Lovecats" is completely missing — a song I would have expected to be unavoidable. And where is “Hot Hot Hot!!!", “Let’s Go to Bed", “Mint Car", “M", “All Cats are Grey", “A Letter to Elise" or “Just Say Yes"? The set is also completely devoid of songs off the début, “Three Imaginary Boys". It’s also a pretty lopsided show, if you look at the albums Robert Smith himself has mentioned as ‘best defining The Cure’; nothing from “Pornography", only one song from “Bloodflowers", and instead almost the entirety of “Disintegration". That is not to say that there’s anything wrong with “Disintegration" — it’s just very much one sound out of the many facets of The Cure. The band performs well under the circumstances, but doesn’t really seem to connect up until the last encore. They’re also challenged by the sound issues that leave the soundscape lacking contrast as synths and high notes in general seem to disappear. It’s pretty impressive for Robert Smith (who is the only member that has been in the band since its conception) is still able to play for three hours, now 40 years later. However, it also seems clear that it’s difficult for the band to both deliver musically as well as intimately, so we end up only halfway there on the ladder.


Full setlist

comments powered by Disqus


© Copyright MMXXIII