At 5UKP a day, the Elephant Fayre gets a better class of reveler. European festival-circuit hippies basked under the same blazing Cornwall sun as did those punkier sufferers who’d come especially to be Cured of their angst. The genteel setting and sounds of ‘Pornography’ wafting over the PA established the mood of a terminally subdued garden-party. After all, what could be more certain to wet-blanket unbridled summer holiday frolicking than the prospect of a set by the funboy Cure? As the shadows lengthened, so did our faces…
The greatly improved SPK quit the stage to tumultuous indifference, and aeons elapsed before the headliners walked on to a rapturous reception from the faithful – they were duly rewarded by a crystal clear, impassioned performance of some of the most banal pretentious and dreary music I’ve ever heard.
Robert Smith raises fourth-form poetry to new-heights. Here are some of the key words without which a Cure song would cease to exist – “mouth”, “fingers”, “eye”, “cold”, “kiss”, “mirror”, “die”, “cry”, and most important of all, “I”. Self-obsessed and self-important, Smith’s is the unremittingly tragic whine of the 17-year-old whose girlfriend has just given him the heave. With ’10.15’ he said it all; since then, Smith’s lyrics have become increasingly half-baked and ridiculously overwrought – and therein lies their appeal. What Tears For Fears are to pop, The Cure are to rock: bedsitter downers for the new Cold War.
And they play music to match. Devoid of all drama, tension or variety, a Cure song hangs on one solemn riff or forgettable melodic phrase, usually undertaken at a resounding plod. In this context, the relatively pacey ‘Primary’ bangs up the excitement ten-fold. But for the main part, a barbiturate litany of ‘The Figurehead’, ‘In Your House’ , ‘The Drowning Man’, ‘Cold’ etc. etc. drones on remorselessly.
“But it always feels the same”, whinges Smith in ‘Siamese Twins’, an emotion ironically shared with the forthright punter who bellowed “Booooring!” after one particularly lugubrious number. The Cure followed up with a song if anything even more monotonous, which moved our by now despairing critic to yell “You’re still boring, you BORING BASTARDS!!!”. True enough, but not the whole story.
‘One Hundred Years’ and a couple of others nag their way under the skin – though no further. The new rhythm section of bassist Phil Thornally and drummer Andy Anderson did what they had to do with force, precision and as much invention as they were allowed.
Since he joined hands with Steve Severin in The Glove, he’s revealed more of his intricately resonant brilliance, but this ability is wasted as mere adornment to The Cure’s self-pitying dirges. Smith’s talent is being steamed up in a mirror of his own making. He should get out of the bathroom and into the daylight.
© Matt Snow & NME