Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Reviewed: The Cure, Sydney Opera House 31.05.2011

Last week I was lucky enough to attend the Cure’s Reflections concert at the Sydney Opera House Concert Hall as part of the Vivid Live festival. Now, I should preface this by saying that I go to a lot of gigs. I’ve seen a lot of bands over the years and have been to all manner of concerts and festivals. Of all the concerts I’ve been to over the years, this was definitely one of the most special and the most memorable gigs I have ever experienced.

Sitting just seven rows back in a 2,000 capacity venue with a clear, uninterrupted view of the stage (and the legendary Robert Smith in his classic garb, wild hair and red lipstick), I experienced over three and a half hours of Cure gold.

Most people associate the Cure with gothic get up and quirky ‘80s pop songs like The Love Cats and Friday I’m in Love, but during the Reflections gig, we were treated to their first three albums, played in their entirety.

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When they first appeared on the side of the stage, Robert Smith, Simon Gallup and Jason Cooper were greeted with a standing ovation and a roar of cheers. Given the overly enthusiastic reactions, it was clear that the audience was made up of truly dedicated fans (the fact that tickets sold on eBay for up to $1,700 hammered this home).

After soaking up the gratitude of their fans for a few moments, the band launched into the first song from their first album – 10:15 Saturday Night from the Three Imaginary Boys album. They powered through their debut album, full of short sharp post-punk classics. While Robert Smith didn’t interact with the crowd a great deal, he did finish each song with a big smile and a “CUE!” (“thank you” in abbreviated Robert Smith slang), and often interjected with some mild banter (“In the olden days, that’s all you’d get at a gig…but we’re coming back to play two more records!”).

After a short break, the band reappeared with the addition of Roger O’Donnell on keyboards and launched into the Seventeen Seconds album (my favourite Cure album of all time). By the time they ripped into Play for Today, I was in heaven. Their performance of the album was note perfect, but still managed to capture that raw energy that only a live performance can deliver. The performance of this album really got the crowd going, and 30 seconds into the first song, the whole crowd was on their feet, dancing awkwardly and singing along to every lyric.

After another short break (a wee wee break, as Robert Smith suggested), the band returned once again, adding Lol Tolhurst on percussion, to perform the album Faith. Hearing this album in its entirety was beautifully melancholic with the highlight being the hauntingly ethereal song, The Funeral Party. This song in particular had the audience completely captivated and if it weren’t for the music, I’m sure you could have heard a pin drop.

Once they finished Faith, the entire audience seemed completely enraptured and the screams of gratitude kept getting louder and louder. Luckily, after they finished their first three albums, they returned to the stage and performed not one, not two, but three encores. That’s right. Three encores full of b-sides, album tracks and hit singles.

The first encore was full of older b-sides such as Plastic Passion and Killing an Arab (which Robert Smith, observing political correctness, sung as “killing another”…which was a bit pointless as he was drowned out by the crowd singing “Arab” anyway), while the second encore contained more otherworldly melancholy treats like Descent and The Hanging Garden.

The final encore was the obvious crowd pleaser with three upbeat pop gems, Let’s Go To Bed, The Walk and (the cherry on top) The Love Cats rounding it all off. Robert used The Love Cats as an opportunity to ham it up and let his quirky persona shine…which thrilled the crowd no end.

The whole experience was surreal. The sheer volume of material played was incredible. The acoustics in the Concert Hall and the intimate feel of the gig were mind blowing. The fact that true music legends were a mere 15 meters away, playing some of my favourite songs of all time was overwhelming. And the fact that it was all being filmed and will be turned into a DVD will be the greatest bit of gig memorabilia ever.

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