24 March 2008
On Thursday, I went to see The Cure at Wembley. The sound suffered from apparently having no full time keyboard player (although, with nearly all the lights behind the band, pointing out at the crowd, they could have had a shire horse on stage and I wouldn't have seen it from where I was). On a couple of songs there were samples or keyboards, but the setup was basically two guitars, bass and drums. It gave a raw edge to songs like 'Never enough' and 'Love cats', with the drums really driving it, but the pace was relentless. On past tours, slower and more subtle songs like 'Apart' and the slow version of 'Close to me' have given the set more shape and variety. Songs like 'Hot hot hot' and 'Why can't I be you' sounded extremely sparse with all the synths and horns stripped away. With the sound being so basic, it was hard to get into many of the new songs (although, to be fair, many of them were probably just new to me).
Can't fault the choice of songs, though: Opening with 'Plainsong', playing a rocked-up version of 'Push', 'Prayers for rain' including a long howl of 'Raaaaiiiiin', and pretty much all the hits present and correct. 'Lullaby' and 'Friday I'm in love' got a raucous reception, and it was slightly surreal to see The Cure being treated by many of those around me as a party band.
One of the jokes in 'University of Death' is about how people never buy music just for music - it's always an accompaniment to something else, and at the last few gigs I've been to, there have been lots of people who were 'only here for the beer'. If you're chatting through 'Prayers for rain', you're in the wrong gig. Perhaps instead of limiting demand by pushing ticket prices ever higher, we should make concert-goers sit exams about the bands they want to see? After all, we consider it reasonable to make people sit exams for schools, universities and jobs, where there's far more at stake. Who could possibly object to five multiple choice questions on Disintegration before being allowed to buy a Cure ticket?