The Cure

Andrew Watson
The Cure

The Cure

City: Indio, California
Venue: Coachella
Date: 2004-05-02

The Cure's Robert Smith
I'm gonna go ahead, skip the history lesson, and assume that you all are familiar with Robert Smith and the grand importance of his band, the Cure. You guys were there, you remember the songs -- hell, maybe you're even still buying his records. His place in the lofty upper echelon of popular musicians, while strange when you think about it, is nonetheless secure. His presence at this massive thing, Coachella, amidst peers (Kraftwerk, the Pixies) as well as progeny (BRMC, Pretty Girls Make Graves, the Stills) is anticipated and certainly warranted, but the time slot is coming off as a bit unfortunate. You see, Bob and the boys have been scheduled to close down this two-day-desert-music-masterpiece, to set it down on a gentle, pleasantly nostalgic note. I have been scheduled to watch him and say a few words about it. After literally prying myself away from Mogwai's gorgeous, shattering set in the much-too-distant, appropriately named Sahara Tent ("Coachella" is desert-speak for "Sacrifice"), I made my way to the main stage -- wading through the sun-baked, semi-conscious masses, most of them sprawled out on the cool grass, clearly spent of their energies and interest, not to mention their cash. They certainly didn't seem to be gearing up for a one-and-a-half hour Cure set. No, by this point, after a hundred bands or so and 48 hours of 100 degree heat, the last thing anybody was hungering for was old '80's Goth pop. Undeterred, the Masters of Mope (remember that?) took to the behemoth main stage after a nearly 25-minute delay; the two giant monitors flanking the stage finally flashed the Man's grave image, creating an audible moment of real shock and awe. Frankly, Robert Smith looks dead and bloated. Granted, he's always looked a little dead, what with the ashen white skin, crooked lipstick and manic hair, but his reluctance over the years to adjust that look to fit his aging, widening frame has left him with a ghastly, comic appearance that had folks near me struggling to find the words to describe what they were seeing. It was (not quite) Michael Jackson-ish, but still very distracting -- so much so that I missed the Cure's first song, or at least didn't pay any attention to it. At any rate, it was a new one, and not very good. What came next was good. "Fascination Street" drew the people's attention back to the music, where it would stay for the set's remainder. The Cure is responsible for dozens of wonderful songs, most of which were offered on this night, though with little variation and virtually no interaction. "Charlotte Sometimes", "A Forest", "In Between Days" and most of the other Standing on a Beach singles got terrific reactions from the crowd -- not as palpably adoring and thankful as the night before during a lively, memorable Pixies set, but nearly as much so. The crowd went especially apeshit for the rarely played but much requested "Love Cats" as well as "Just Like Heaven" -- arguably one of the finest, purest pop songs ever conceived. But if I'd have to guess, I'd say the loudest "WHOO!"'s and "YEAH!"s came during "Boys Don't Cry", a song that reminds me (and thousands others, I'm sure) of junior high; understanding even then the song's ironic, desperate pride and taking note of the narrator's oh-so-crucial mistakes ("Misjudged your limits / Pushed you too far / Took you for granted!"). It was profound advice for a 13-year old kid with raging hormones and a susceptible attitude towards the opposite sex. Smith's great gift of communicating feeling and melody remains, but with a song like "Boys Don't Cry" we are reminded, painfully, of how dim it's become of late. "Pictures of You" and "Lullaby" will pay his bills until the day he dies, but his artistry and vitality are beginning to seem as lifeless as his appearance. Smith closed the set and this great weekend with "Close to Me", yet another Standing on a Beach classic, and the overall sense seemed to be one of relief. This thing was finally over, and how better to end it than with a song of such divine groove and lush instrumentation. Robert Smith's old songs have endured for nearly three decades, and for that he is deserving of unique praise and respect. It's difficult to say if an event of this magnitude, featuring bands of this ilk, would even be possible without his contributions to popular music.

Cover down, pray through: Bob Dylan's underrated, misunderstood "gospel years" are meticulously examined in this welcome new installment of his Bootleg series.

"How long can I listen to the lies of prejudice?
How long can I stay drunk on fear out in the wilderness?"
-- Bob Dylan, "When He Returns," 1979

Bob Dylan's career has been full of unpredictable left turns that have left fans confused, enthralled, enraged – sometimes all at once. At the 1965 Newport Folk Festival – accompanied by a pickup band featuring Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper – he performed his first electric set, upsetting his folk base. His 1970 album Self Portrait is full of jazzy crooning and head-scratching covers. In 1978, his self-directed, four-hour film Renaldo and Clara was released, combining concert footage with surreal, often tedious dramatic scenes. Dylan seemed to thrive on testing the patience of his fans.

Keep reading... Show less

Inane Political Discourse, or, Alan Partridge's Parody Politics

Publicity photo of Steve Coogan courtesy of Sky Consumer Comms

That the political class now finds itself relegated to accidental Alan Partridge territory along the with rest of the twits and twats that comprise English popular culture is meaningful, to say the least.

"I evolve, I don't…revolve."
-- Alan Partridge

Alan Partridge began as a gleeful media parody in the early '90s but thanks to Brexit he has evolved into a political one. In print and online, the hopelessly awkward radio DJ from Norwich, England, is used as an emblem for incompetent leadership and code word for inane political discourse.

Keep reading... Show less

The show is called Crazy Ex-Girlfriend largely because it spends time dismantling the structure that finds it easier to write women off as "crazy" than to offer them help or understanding.

In the latest episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, the CW networks' highly acclaimed musical drama, the shows protagonist, Rebecca Bunch (Rachel Bloom), is at an all time low. Within the course of five episodes she has been left at the altar, cruelly lashed out at her friends, abandoned a promising new relationship, walked out of her job, had her murky mental health history exposed, slept with her ex boyfriend's ill father, and been forced to retreat to her notoriously prickly mother's (Tovah Feldshuh) uncaring guardianship. It's to the show's credit that none of this feels remotely ridiculous or emotionally manipulative.

Keep reading... Show less

Here comes another Kompakt Pop Ambient collection to make life just a little more bearable.

Another (extremely rough) year has come and gone, which means that the German electronic music label Kompakt gets to roll out their annual Total and Pop Ambient compilations for us all.

Keep reading... Show less

Winner of the 2017 Ameripolitan Music Award for Best Rockabilly Female stakes her claim with her band on accomplished new set.

Lara Hope & The Ark-Tones

Love You To Life

Label: Self-released
Release Date: 2017-08-11

Lara Hope and her band of roots rockin' country and rockabilly rabble rousers in the Ark-Tones have been the not so best kept secret of the Hudson Valley, New York music scene for awhile now.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.