I know I was fortunate. And so were short of 20 thousand people who attended yesterday’s edition of Curiosa Festival, a curiously interesting tour where The Cure has surrounded itself with its offspring. Bands such as Mogwai, Interpol and Auf Der Maur took the two stages at Tampa´s brand new Ford Amphitheater, on the second day of the festival. We were there, and we breathed the air from the gulf as the bands delivered on their promise.
We weren´t on time, so we missed Mogwai. Honestly, after four albums, I didn’t expect them to (almost) open up the bill… So, the first act we actually saw was Auf Der Maur. I’d first heard about this Canadian gal from my friend Rorro. Indeed, as The Miami Herald points out, “Auf der Maur, essentially ex-Hole and Smashing Pumpkins member Melissa Auf der Maur, proved she no longer needs Courtney Love or Billy Corgan.” She has a voice that resounds beyond belief. Her band has a personality that requires no introduction. And her charisma and respect for her fans stroke me, as she was still signing autographs and hugging fans well over an hour after leaving the second stage.
Following her was Interpol, on the main stage. These NY folks (who have now completed their second album) totally knocked us off our seats. I’d listened to their album before, but their live presence exhuded a self-confidence and professionalism that could easily turn them into the next Coldplay (or better). Their police-like theme, with long sleeves and ties, and their coolness was balanced with riffs and sounds like a blend between The Smiths and The Cure, with Paul’s voice all imposing, as if bringing Jim Morrison back to life.
After a brief interlude with Thursday on the second stage, we started getting ready for the night’s musical entree: The Cure. The preparation for these acts almost builds up as much excitement as the performances themselves at times. The show production folks are brilliant not just at setting up the stage, but getting you to ‘that point’ where you’re thinking and reviving the times you’ve lived when listening to X or Y song by the band, wondering if they’ll transport you to that day again… I am still struggling to locate the artist that performs that version of “Light My Fire” with a horn ensemble in the back, in the best soul style possible, that they played while giving time to the techs on the stage to get the instruments finally set.
Some kaleidoscopic images rotating in the back, the night falling for good, and a breeze that smelt like rain coming (though it never arrived), finalized the preparation for Robert Smith and the band. At 9 sharp, they put on their instruments, framed by a semi-circular mesh of steel that aimed the lights down in a Pink Floyd-ish fashion, as the first notes of “Lost” (from their new album) reached our ears, starving for their blend of punk, goth, pop and passion.
A mix of old and new left everyone satisfied. When you are The Cure, you can go on for hours, playing hit after hit, non-stop, and still have bullets left to shoot to the sky, so I can always think of a song or two that they didn’t play (“Close to me” or “Friday, I’m In Love” come to mind). But the essentials were there: “Pictures of You”, “Fascination Street” and a host of other tracks from their 1989 ‘Disintegration‘ (their best album, in my opinion) accompanied “From the Edge of the Deep Green Sea” (from ‘Wish‘) and a few other pieces from their classic repertoire. Closing the encore was “A Forest”, a song from their second album that I’d only heard on their first hits album, the one with the old man’s face on the cover. That song transported me:
I hear her voice
Calling my name
The sound is deep
In the dark
I hear her voice
And start to run
Into the trees
Into the trees
Into the trees
Suddenly I stop
But I know it’s too late
I’m lost in a forest
The girl was never there
It’s always the same
I’m running towards nothing
Again and again and again…”
(From “A Forest”, 1980 – The Cure)
Only their rendition of “The Promise” from their recent self-titled album made me feel remotely close. It’s been 24 years since Robert Smith wrote it, but it can be every bit as haunting today as it was at back then.
Out of all the possible songs, happier and darker, for the set they picked those that helped set a darker atmosphere. And it worked beauties! Overall, it was an extraordinary experience I will not forget. These next few days, I will be a very mono-thematic music listener, as I dig deeper into the coffers of the band’s musical legacy, to listen to some of their earlier material. I guess, this DVD that a peer lent to me today will help in the process.