Sunday, 19 June 2011

Live Review: The Cure, Sydney Opera House, Sydney, 01/06/2011

Q: How big is the Sydney Opera House Concert Hall and just how far back are seats X45, 46, 47?

This is what I have been asking myself in the weeks since receiving tickets to The Cure: Reflections. On presenting our tickets at the door, the young usher smiles kindly and says "just keep going up" and we go up, up and up into the last three seats in the last row of this magnificent hall.

I need not have worried. The view from Row X is magnificent and from the moment the band starts their set, the sound is pitch perfect - loud, very loud, but without a hint of unwanted distortion.

Tonight's show was celebration of the bands beginnings: starting the show as a three piece (Simon Gallup on bass, Jason Cooper drums and of course Robert Smith vocals and guitar) the line up grows as they play their first three albums - Three Imaginary Boys, Seventeen Seconds and Faith - in full.

The problem with the Three Imaginary Boys album is that it was never very good - on the record the sound is thin and tinny, the lyrics weak and inconsequential. Tonight, live, the sound is full, the lyrics are still just as immature but are sung with an unexpected sense of fun. 10:15 Saturday Night, Grinding Halt and Fire in Cairo are the highlights and as the first set ends, Robert says "We forgot to play this last night" before recreating the original albums secret track - little more than an end of tape time filling jam known as The Weedy Burton.

Like a low hanging cloud the black clad masses drift out of the Concert Hall and into the Opera Bar. Balding goths mix with business men, pirates and corset bound vampresses all joined by their love of The Cure and a ticket to the hottest show in town.

Next, keyboardist Rodger O'Donnell joins the trio for Seventeen Seconds, the album that best captures the bands transition from a group following in the footsteps of post-punk to the band that has defined emotional gothic rock for the last 30 years. There are moments of great fun: the whole audience singing along to the keyboard riff on Play For Today, standing and dancing the long time live favourite A Forest, and the Happy Birthday Simon version of Three. Just as enjoyable but much darker are the live versions of M and Seventeen Seconds.

Another short break before the band return to the stage as a five piece with Lol Tolhurst joining for the Faith set. Tolhurst's keyboard playing and cymbal washes fill out the sound perfectly, recreating the dark dense moods of the Faith album. Primary is great as is All Cats Are Grey, but for me the highlight of the night so far is the big romantic wave of sound that is The Funeral Party.

After more than five minutes of applause and cheers for more, the band return for encore number one, early career b-sides World War and I'm Cold are great but the biggest cheers are saved for the classic singles Boy's Don't Cry, Killing An Arab and Jumping Someone Else's Train.

For encore number two, the band have moved forward a few years playing Decent, Splintered In The Head, Charlotte Sometimes and the gloomy as death The Hanging Garden.

After nearly four hours the band return for a third encore and this time they are ready for some fun: Let's Go To Bed is followed by the always popular The Walk, ending with The Lovecats.

No whater what seat you were in The Cure: Reflections was a massive event and massive fun.

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