THE CURE HAVE just made their American debut at Emerald City, a huge “rock disco” outside of Philadelphia. Beside Jefferson Starship playing the Roxy, it’s hard to imagine anything more clashing than this venue and this band. Stuck in among the potted palms, pinball rooms and endless neon caverns, the Cure gained enormously in presence just by looking what they are: four uncompromisingly ordinary yobs, Brit-musician variety.
They took the stage, more than a little jet-lagged but seemingly quite sure of themselves, opening with two songs that no-one in the U.S. has ever heard, the title cut from their about-to-be-released UK album Seventeen Seconds followed by ‘Play For Today’. They went over well.
The band then alternated between the older, poppier songs and the new material, which in the studio version sounds mechanised and heavy on the Continental angst, but live, packs a great droning wallop, especially the new single ‘A Forest’. Familiar songs like ‘Boys Don’t Cry’, ‘Jumping Someone Else’s Train’ and ‘Accuracy’ were much more deliberate and solid than on vinyl, where Chris Parry’s no-tricks production does not convey the impact of Lol Tollhurst’s exemplary drumming.
The new keyboard player, who looked like a roadie at the side of the stage, played well, taking much of the instrumental burden off Smith and Michael Demsey’s replacement on bass. Despite his reputation as Mr “self effacing and reticent”, Robert Smith looks from here to be quite the hard man who knows what he wants and usually gets it.
26 April 1980
© Van Gosse & Melody Maker