August 11, 1986 - Liberation (France)*
"The Cure at the Arenas"
Interview / By; Laurence Romance
(scan submitted by: JC.Moglia)
(Photographer: Richard Bellia)
The Cure at the Arenas
Failures (Goldman, Indochine, Depeche Mode) or semi-failures (Rod Stewart, Simple Minds) the big rock tours of 86 have witnessed the darkest summer of their history. Only exception: Robert Smith and his troupes, who have set fire to the arenas of the south of France.
Fréjus, special report
Concert before the last of a summer tour limited to four dates in the south of France, The Cure played Saturday at the arenas of Fréjus on the Cote d’Azur. Heat wave, blue sky and blinding sunlight, a setting like the book of Camus, which as we know it, inspired the young Smith some years ago. The reality is however not so calmly literary, and Meursault would’ve had some hard work to do if he wanted to be quietly left alone today on the beach: kids coming from everywhere, invading by waves the good city of Frejus, under the supervising eye of the locals who are used to such sights. Nonetheless…the rock Corridas are frequent at the Arenas but today we are almost over boarding. Rod Stewart flopped two days earlier, other tours are falling into water as well as bathing in the sun, but it doesn’t seem the case here. Between the suntanned backpackers who are systematically amateurs of “open air” music (“as long as it’s good, eh” confirms a questioned nomad “Queen, Cure, Lalamme, hard stuff”) and the die-hard fans increasing in numbers- result of a Cure-mania taking over the country- there’s a crowd.
At the time of the concert, the Arenas, set for 15,000 people are ready to burst. Backstage, a tribe of roadies, journalists, organizers, photographers lighting crew and English record house execs circulate, chatter or hover around the caravans where the group are “pressured” into hiding these days (oh really?).
But the girlfriends are taking a walk, their stiletto heels sticking in the sandy ground. Vision of a ghostly Mary, Smith’s girl, dressed in white from head to toe.
It seems The Cure are big babies. Their unstable mood has inspired them today to choose a supporting act of a special kind; which they met the previous night at a restaurant: the three comedians up on stage in a big display, are as amazed as they are happy to find themselves in front of such a gathering. Themselves had never heard of The Cure just 24 hrs ago…the show however turns into a disaster: the public, far from happy with this percussionist representation, quickly boos these bongo players who are nonetheless struck with awe: “for once that we had sound!” they say exasperated. But no doubt for them to be accepted by the curists, they would’ve also needed the support of the idols themselves. If Costello imposes T.Bone Burnett, he at least comes to his rescue if things go bad. It’s the thought that counts? Still you can wonder if leading in the Arena a first act clearly destined to be devoured by the lions, doesn’t reveal a capricious and non-sympathetic side of The Cure, who are supposed to be “good guys”.
Above that, it’s a doubtful hour as “they” just get on stage. Wonder and consternation: the bewildered public discovers a Robert Smith with short hair, as in his earlier years of stardom. No more messy bushel ! It’s a razor head, or almost!
With no scissors within their reach, the kids, astonished, look at each other. The girls still can’t take this blow to the image, this loss that they unconsciously associate to some mythological fight. To top it all, the fat Lol Tolhurst considerably thinner- as a short story, it seems that this weight variation is no stranger to Lol who has just exchanged a French girlfriend very good in the kitchen, with an American diet- has also had his hair cut. Thus only Simon Gallup has kept the meaningful spider-head of real curists. It’s all falling apart!
Nevertheless, this setback doesn’t stop them short. What’s more that The Cure who on stage keep almost only to their latest album and the recent singles released under the compilation Standing on a beach, are playing on velvet: their public definitely knows three quarters of their play list. Like The Stones starting from 67 (with Big hits, High tide and Green Grass) Cure henceforth have a long enough and well-furbished career to proceed as such. The likeness doesn’t stop at that: the concert is very classical rock’n’roll, at three speeds: after a savage beginning (Shake Dog Shake, Primary) it calms down a bit with the swirling of Kyoto Song and others Charlotte Sometimes. A Night Like This, superbly rampant marks the end of the “pause” before getting back to cruising speed around the middle of the concert: back-to-back tracks- the shy Smith doesn’t need to introduce them on the mic anymore- dramatic amplitude and neo-psychedelic delirium. One Hundred Years finishes in a chaos of guitars, A Forest reaches to the sky in cloudy rhythms. The kids altogether turn on their lighters.
Behind the scenes, Tim Pope, the eccentric producer of The Cure videos, here to choose outtakes for the concert to be filmed the next day, accompanies the group in his own way: wearing an enormous helmet, he screams the lyrics of his favorite songs, provoking a certain panic between his assistants, who, relayed by talkie-walkies must be hearing the equivalent of an atrocious “Geronimo” sung by Jerry Lewis in a well-known movie…
Three encores follow the group’s first exit, during which Cure offer to the insatiable public some of their oldest classics, the atmospheric Three Imaginary Boys or 10:15 before closing with Killing an Arab.
The fleeing memory of a three piece Cure of the beginning, spotted previously on small scenes just confirms the vastness of the distance they’ve come. Striking difference? If you like. Still you can regret the frivolous and anachronistic group- summed-up in the refrigerator artwork of the first album- that was then The Cure. Which seems less and less like a progressive group of resonating guitars of maximum “rock’n’roll”, neither more nor less than Plimsouls, for e.g., and even with less evident melodies like Charlotte, A Night Like This, remains a style of good sound.
The Cure are nowadays a big commercial group. And the past comparison to Pink Floyd doesn’t apply anymore. The shows are of a terrible efficiency and evidence: nothing but hits, and no down time.
Nothing surprising after that for the roadies to get worried as they see a cool Simon Gallup getting close to the worn-down fences by fans, to sign autographs and shake hands “he’s crazy! He’s gonna get his arms ripped out!” a last image of Robert Smith posing with his football for a few “supporter” pictures, while the girls who remained behind the arena gates await relentlessly his prompt exit. “And it’s not over…” sighs the worn-out roadie who hasn’t slept in two days. “Yesterday, they climbed the hotel walls…”
By; Laurence Romance
So how’s it going? For Jules Fruitos, happy roadie of Cure, it’s all going for the best. Complete success of the 4 concerts in the south at the Arenas (Dax, Béziers, Orange, Fréjus). On the contrary, the Simple Minds tour equally under the organization S.O.S. (hi, hi…!) went a bit wrong: only 6,500 people at Nimes.
It’s therefore not enough guarantee to be British. Depeche Mode managed to be ok- but for the social phenomenon of “never seen since The Beatles” that The Cure represent - it is.
As for the French: Reynaud, Goldman and all the others, it was a total fiasco “ They performed 80 concerts during the year with stops every hundred kilometers” explains Fruitos “then evidently, everyone’s seen them already”.
Thanks so much Caroline for TRANSLATING.