July/August 1989 - Backstage (France) (Translation below)


his year as well, hair dressed up in tresses, pale faces, eyes lined with dripping eyeliner and lips colored scarlet red running at the corners are the gathering signs of the battalions called up by Robert Smith. After the craziness of the 1987 tour and the hysterical measure of their success, the return of The Cure kept its promises: it is a remarkable event. With a new album, "Disintegration", and a single, "Lullaby", the group disarranges once again, literally and metaphorically, the sagely made up hair of the Top 50.
More than ever, Robert Smith, Simon Gallup, Porl Thompson, Boris Williams and Roger O'Donnell have turned the "Prayer Tour" into a gigantic itinerant religious ceremony. Already, you can't just "improvise" yourself into a Cure fan: it is a veritable profession of belief. Fanatics in the purest sense of the word. The group's admirers venerate its members like demi-gods, following their every step and sharing their moods. They will be gratified.
In every concert venue of the cities that the tour passes through, everything is set into place to evoke a cult atmosphere. Shrouded in huge white sheets, the stage resembles the altar of a church. At the back, three metallic pylons rise, vaguely recalling a stairway. Over the back and the sides, gigantic curtains delimit the space of the musicians. This atmosphere, already very mystical, is accentuated during the concert by incredibly beautiful lighting that gives each songs a different note. Slightly chilly, besides.
This return to somber thoughts was foreshadowed by the album "Disintegration", which ties back into the darkest period of the group. In all the interviews, Robert Smith and his team had confirmed this direction. On stage, they kept their word. The first part of the shows combines titles from the new record with old ones from the "Seventeen Seconds", "Faith" and "Pornography" trilogy. At this point during the concert, the lights are cold, the spotlights sending around a color palette from blue to metallic grey or white. The audience in front of the stage holds their breath and explodes into applause at the end of each song.
Later, the melancholy evaporates and gives place to good humor and a playful atmosphere. The second half can start. The lights have warmed up and are bombarding the stage with flashes of red, violet, yellow and orange. The sad pieces change into pop hymns. Put back to back, they could compose a "best of" of The Cure's most popular sing-alongs. Skipping joyfully about the stage, Robert Smith dances when he's not playing guitar. The crowd, until now subdued, joins in the frenzy. At the least expected moment, when the collective hysteria reaches paroxysm, the group leaves the stage, only to come back under a storm of applause.
The concert ends in apotheosis with one of their classics. Yes, but which one? No, we won't give out any song titles here. It is for you to discover. "The list of songs changes a little from country to country", says Robert Smith. In Czechoslovakia, where no one had ever heard The Cure, we played our most easily accessible songs, the singles. If we were to go back, the setlist would probably change. In France our sets will be shorter and including more old songs. We have here an audience more partial to our beginnings."
The French hexagon is an important rendezvous for the group on every tour. And yet, this year Robert regrets having to play Bercy for the Paris dates. "Originally, the concerts were to take place on the Saint-Germain island, in open air. Unfortunately our promoter wasn't able to receive all the necessary authorizations."
On the road of the Prayer Tour, the shows in France will be only a small step. Having left London since May 2nd, The Cure has on its schedule a journey through 52 cities, often with two or three concerts in one city.
"Physically, this tour has been much more difficult than the previous ones", Robert explains. "Over a period of eight days we had seven shows to play in the evening. During the day we would be traveling to the next city. The distances are often significant." For obscure reasons, the group has entirely renounced air travel. Fear of flying, most likely.
So, it is by bus that the distances are covered, but this is far from the level of rudimentary comfort of holiday cars. Each bus is equipped with luxury options: toilets, beds, satellite TV, radio and stereo hi-fi system. "This transportation system takes longer, but it's the only one that allows us to sleep in good conditions." Constrained by the tough schedule of the tour, Robert and his accomplices have self-imposed a healthy line of conduct. "We get off stage entirely drained. It takes us quite a long time to replenish our energy." Unlike the previous years, it is not beer that awaits them backstage but healthy drinks, fruit juice, water and champagne for the guests.
"When we were recording the album, we went through some excesses but we came back. Lol Tolhurst was the only one who didn't know when to stop. It's one of the reasons we asked him to leave. He hadn't been participating in the life of group for a long time as well. He would only show up at dinner time and had become more of a whipping boy than a musician. At the end, we were only thinking of what jokes to play on him, rather than the music."
Despite a very full schedule, Robert, Porl, Simon, Boris and Roger can always find a relaxing moment. Their favorite pastime: football. This sport has sometimes painful consequences. After a fiery game against the crew team in Italy, Robert strained a hip muscle that the unskillful and too strong massage given by a local physiotherapist has made very sensitive.
But the musicians find the ideal support close to their loved ones. The fiancées (or wives) rarely follow the whole tour, but in the case of The Cure, if they were absent during the first part, they have rejoined the tour since its arrival in France. Fidelity is not an empty word for this group. Robert has been in love with his wife Mary for more than fourteen years. Same for Simon who had met Carol back in the schoolyard. Porl shares his life with Janet, Robert's little sister, and Boris with Cindy, a ravishing blonde and slim American whom he has been together with for years. Female fans who had hoped to spend a good evening in the company of their idol will have to learn to live with it. All dressed up and pretty, the wives and official girlfriends will be sitting quietly in the first row.
-- Cecile Tesseyre
The Cure: A History
The beginnings of The Cure start at the end of the school year in the little town of Crawley. Robert Smith is 17. Together with his childhood friend Lol Tolhurst and other boys his age, in 1976 he founds Easy Cure. For two years it's come-and-go, the members keep changing, but in '78 the formula settles down and ends in a trio: Michael Dempsey on bass, Lol Tolhurst on drums and Robert Smith on vocals and guitar. The group renames itself to The Cure.
In August of the same year, the trio has a key encounter: Chris Parry, president of Fiction Records. Without hesitating, sensing the potential of the group, Parry signs The Cure to his label. Since its first steps, The Cure makes a lot of ink flow. Inspired by the Camus novel "The Stranger", their first single "Killing An Arab" could be taken as a racist bomb, but the group gives out copies of the book after its shows.
The Cure discography is long. May '79 sees the release of "Three Imaginary Boys" and the group goes on its first club and theater tour of England. With this occasion, Robert meets another group, Siouxsie and the Banshees. From '80 The Cure enters a pretty dark period. The three records that follow, "Seventeen Seconds", "Faith" and "Pornography" are very depressing and the tradition is started among their fans to show up at concerts all dressed in black, face ghostly colored. Slowly, The Cure enlarges its audience, but the make-up of the group is unstable. Simon Gallup joins in '79 and leaves in '82. Robert Smith himself takes his distance and, excellent guitarist, goes to play with the Banshees and then with The Glove.
Paradoxically, it is around this time that The Cure has its first big discographic hits in Great Britain with "Let's Go To Bed", "The Lovecats" or "The Caterpillar". A compilation, "Japanese Whispers", marks the end of their depression. Less than four months pass before The Cure releases "The Top", recorded partially in Paris. This record confirms the new state of mind of the group.
In May '84, "Robert's band" makes the Zenith in Paris explode, but the big turning point dates from July '85 at the Athens festival where fans and journalists discover some new songs (from the coming album "The Head On The Door") and the return of Simon Gallup on bass. It is in France that the album will have its greatest success, an insane Curemania developing in its wake. At ease in the French hexagon, the group will record here its double album "Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me", another success.

After the 1987 tour: silence. Much talk about the separation of the group, a solo project for Robert Smith... Against all expectations, there is a new album, "Disintegration", that follows in a line close to the most somber years.


THANKS to: Aria Thelmann  @ Music For Dreams for the TRANSLATION. 


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