Cracker by Damian Christie


A Night Like This

Maybe it’s the jetlag from my (cough, cough) recent excursion to Seoul (on which more later, clearly) but I kinda agreed with a lot of what Graham Reid wrote in his I Can’t Believe it’s Not a Cure Concert Review before I realised it was a parody. Not reading being much of a Herald reader I hadn’t read the Dylan Review in question, so I sorta missed the joke.

For anyone else similarly suffering from being dense, can I assure you in advance that my own thought’s on last night’s Cure concert are a) honest, b) without irony and c) probably worth skipping altogether, since the concert was a day ago now and even if I say it was really good you can’t travel back in time and go to it on my recommendation…

…or can you?

No, you can’t.

The Cure: Vector Arena, Auckland, 14 August 2007.

First let me state: Big Cure fan. Or certainly I was a big Cure fan, I haven’t bothered with the past couple of albums. I’m sure they have their moments, but they have been sounding a bit samey-samey, which was one thing I liked about albums one through ten.

I used to be in a Cure covers band. Which as a keyboardist was a lot more successful than the two weeks I spent in an AC/DC covers band. Although it wouldn’t have done me last night, as the Cure circa 2007 have four members, one more than the early days, and one fewer than at another time.

So to the gig. Three hours was the rumour, and three hours we got. Graham says he could’ve done with half an hour less, I’d push that up to an hour, but then again I’m also acutely aware of my MTV-generation attention span. And also, with the Cure meaning so many things to so many people, I’d just be removing the songs I’m not so fond of, which could well be the tunes the couple beside me fell in love to (particularly if they’re younger and have a better appreciation of the last few albums).
But even so, there was what felt like a generally poorly-received lull that started with “If Only Tonight We Could Sleep” and ended a few songs later. The beer line certainly grew exponentially during that time.

The songs seemed loosely grouped together by album – three of the four singles from Disintegration (Lovesong, Lullaby and Pictures of You) were all played in a row, although they needn’t have been. And here’s my one main complaint. Maybe they’re trying to fill a gap left by having no keyboardist providing underlying atmospherics, but could they just tone down the flanger/phaser/delay effect on the guitars occasionally? With almost every song receiving the same treatment, it felt like the whole concert was being staged in a flooded coal mine, and many songs lost the dynamics that made them unique in the first place, two examples being The Blood and Hot Hot Hot!!!

I can’t remember whether it was three or four encores we were treated to, but the inclusion of Faith as an end to one of them was either a rare treat for die-hard fans, or a drawn-out dirge for those unfamiliar with the song from 1981’s eponymous album. But I think the same could be said for much of the evening. Three hours is a fan-only affair. If you like Friday I’m in Love and “The One about the Spider” (one of two songs the Stuff’s reviewer couldn’t get right – where are those Fairfax subs/Cure fans when you need ‘em?) then you would be bored after an hour – about the time I was jiggling in my seat to one of my vaguely-obscure personal faves, Push.

Even my attention was waning a little towards the end, and without repeating the All Blacks ahead by 60 analogy Graham has already poked fun at, my date did point out the similarity to the Blues trouncing someone at Eden Park – as the encore began, those eager to beat the traffic fled.

But oh what they missed! Finally the overblown effects units on the guitars had something of a short-circuit, and the Cure emerged if not looking, then sounding something like their late-70s selves (of which, it should be noted for accuracy, Smith is the only remaining member). The energy was well up, and bassist Simon Gallup, who had spent all night looking like he’d be a better fit in a punk band – lanky, toned, stooped and tattoed – finally made sense, as they whipped through almost a medley of tracks from the first album, including Fire In Cairo, Jumping Someone Else’s Train, 10:15 Saturday Night and Grinding Halt.

I’m thinking that even if you didn’t know those tracks word for word, you’d still have had as broad a smile as I did when the final chords rang out.

(PS: I have no sub, nor claim to. This post is bound to be riddled with mistakes.)

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