Wednesday, June 04, 2008

The Cure played for four hours last night, in spite of the fact that seven hundred tickets remained unsold. Fans may have deserted The Cure, but The Cure, apparently, still has a lot of love to give. How perfectly Cure, really.

It was a really great show, too. My inner Cure fan had no trouble at all coming out. Much like the Morrissey concert I went to last year, there were plenty of cameras smuggled in--my leather jacket was big enough to house a Travis Bickle arsenal, but I wasn't even stopped. So there are already a bunch of clips from last night's show up on YouTube.

Here's a bit from their opening song, "Plainsong";

You can't quite make it out, but there was a moving star field projected behind them as they played, and before they began, I almost thought they were going to open with a tribute to the composer of Star Trek's original theme, Alexander Courage, who died last month. How cool would that have been? Crossover!

There was a clear focus on Disintegration and Head on the Door, with seven songs from the former and six from the latter ("Plainsong", "Pictures of You", "Lovesong", "Lullaby", "Fascination Street", "Prayers for Rain", "Disintegration" from Disintegration and "In Between Days", "The Blood", "Push", "The Baby Screams", "Close to Me", and "A Night Like This" from Head on the Door).

For some reason, the crowd went nuts when they started playing "Pictures of You". Even "Lovesong", "Just Like Heaven", and "Boys Don't Cry", didn't seem to garner as strong a reaction, and "Pictures of You" is the only full length performance from the show I could find on YouTube;

And here are bits from "Lovesong" and "Fascination Street". The guitar on "Lovesong" was particularly nice;

My favourite performance of the whole show was "100 Years" from Pornography, which doesn't seem to be online. I wish they'd done more from Pornography--I still consider it one of the single most effective albums ever made by anyone.

Waiting for the show to start, I thought about possible reasons for a loss of interest in The Cure, even as Morrissey is thriving. True, the new Cure songs aren't nearly as impressive as the new Morrissey songs, but I think there may be more to it than that.

Comparing Morrissey and The Cure seems natural not only because of the infamous, longstanding feud between the two, but because they both are sort of ultimate artists for focusing on the inevitably sad inconvenience of human emotion. The fundamental difference between the two is that, while they both take the concept very seriously, Morrissey sees this human condition as sort of comically absurd while Robert Smith sees it as beautiful. Well, I suppose there are elements of both in each artist, but I think both own the respective perspectives a little more strongly than the other.

I wonder if people find Morrissey therefore easier to take because there is a contempt for emotions in popular culture right now. And I'm not just talking about homophobic machismo (which can rear its head just as badly in girls, by the way), but even among more progressive crowds. We've been living under a president who follows his "gut" on deeply important issues to monstrous ends. The bitter pill to swallow is that we all have guts. Hatred for Bush's M.O. is sort of a self hatred.

I was reminded of this when Stephen Colbert, a couple nights ago, had a professional surfer on his show to talk about how he'd grown up on beaches with his family, how they had lived by their "guts", and the crowd couldn't help giggling at this poor fellow, whose family really hadn't done anything wrong or ridiculous, yet that association automatically made it seem so. Colbert had to break character to tell him he admired him, which is one of the reasons Colbert's satire is so effective. He doesn't hug the destruction note.

But it seems to me that ten years ago, the surfer's story wouldn't have been laughed at by these people. We're moving slowly away from an artistic culture that valued explorations of personal feelings, even terribly irrational ones, to a culture that prefers to suppress, ignore, and to ridicule feelings. The irony, I think, is that this behaviour is provoked by irrational feelings, though I'd say the hurt is entirely valid.

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