Hagley Road to Ladywood, "a peek into media culture & society"

July 28, 2008

Last April we called for all Cure fans, old and new, to get in touch with us. We wanted to know how they first got into The Cure and the beginning of their music love affair. Were they at school? Was it through a relationship? Did they her them on the radio? Or were they flicking through a magazine and liked the look of Robert Smith (or Simon Gallup)?

The response we got was phenomenal. Hundreds of fans from all over the world were kind enough to open up and share their stories. We received all sorts, from fans who simply took to their music after borrowing a tape from a mate, to others who told us about their life-changing experiences. Some were truly touching, the ultimate proof of how deep The Cure strike into their fans' consciousness. As it transpires from your stories, The Cure is a way of life. At the end of the day, if you're reading this, you probably know what I mean.

Quite obvious too was The Cure's cross-genereational appeal. A number of those who replied are teenagers and new recruits. Then there's the bulk of those who got into Robert Smith & Co. during the so-called 'golden age' of The Head On The Door, Kiss Me, Disintegration and Wish, the albums that handed The Cure official world stardom. But, most surprisingly, we also heard from veteran Cureheads from the early days, people who told us about their memories of seeing the band on the 1981 Picture tour, for instance. Disintegration, confirming its status as true masterpiece, came clearly on top of everybody's affection. Predictably, instead, Wild Mood Swings is regarded as the opposite end of the spectrum.

We figured that The Cure's wide and international appeal deserves to be recorded and kept for everybody's perusal. In fact, keep the stories coming...
In the meantime, here goes it.

"The Cure of my life"

My story begins in 1996, Madrid. I was 14 years old and my older brother had lots of CDs, most of them scattered around his room, full of scratches and without any kind of case. I was looking for something to listen to, tired of Gun's and Roses, Nirvana and other bands that teenagers used to listen to back then. I had started to listen to bands like The Pixies and The Smiths but my music tastes weren't really defined until I found a very ugly looking CD with The Cure on its label. The name of the CD was Standing on a Beach and I had no clue that the music inside of it was going to change my life forever. I remember listening to first tracks such as Boy's Don't Cry and Killing an Arab concentrating on the guitar parts, simple but perfect, trying to replicate them on my cheap guitar.

As I advanced through the record I couldn't believe what was coming through my ears, it was like the evolution of music from a one band perspective. From A Forest to The Lovecats, to In Between Days or Close to Me. I simply felt amazed of the simple but concise evolution of a band into the different sounds of the different years. Not too long after that, I was able to borrow another CD from the Cure. The music I had heard on Standing on a Beach had surprised me a lot, but anyway it was a studio album, just singles and even tough I didn't know it then I hadn't really heard the full potential of the band, a potential that you can only spot when you hear them LIVE.

So lucky for me, the next album I got to listen was Show. For about a year I almost only listened to that double CD. Tape, Open, High and Pictures of You, it was simply too much for me. Those four songs, specially the last one, Pictures of You have really gone far inside of me. Pictures of You simply changed my concept of music, the guitar and bass line are simply perfect, when I listen to it I feel like I'm lost in space, with the melancholy thoughts that the lyrics inspire. When I listen to that sound (which I still do very oftenly) my whole life comes as a thought. I remember old friends, old pictures, old situations and not so old ones. It is without any doubt the song of my life (so far) which has walked with me along the path of living.

After a while I reached the Disintegration album, I have to admit that I don't like the studio versions as much as I like the Live versions, but it was still a fantastic experience. So far I had only listened to the Standing on a Beach and the Show records, and I really didn't know if the Cure still had much to offer me besides, how naive. So I had the CD and I wanted to try it in one of the two ways that I like to listen to music (besides concerts of course). I waited until my family went to sleep and I lay on my bed with the headphones and nothing else. The "sound was deep, in the dark", deeper than I can ever remember. Plainsong just broke my heart, then the fantastic studio version of Pictures of You, and on and on until Untitled. Probably that was the most exciting experience so far for me of listening to a studio album for the first time. The band was too much for me, in a period of two years I was starting to become some kind of Cure-head.

I could listen to nothing else but those few CDs and I just wanted more. I didn't have much money as a teenager but I managed to buy Japanese Whispers which was on sale at Madrid-rock. I liked the CD, but after the experiences I have had with the other albums I guess that I was a little bit dissapointed, although after the years I have really enjoined that album many times after that. The mp3 era had come and someone gave me a CD simply with all of the Cures music. I was extremely happy that I was finally going to be able to listen to all of their music. I remember running back home, climbing up the stairs not waiting for the elevator, starting up the computer, really nervous. Will it work? Is this really the CD I've been looking for so long? It did, indeed it worked.

I was finally able to listen to Pornography, Faith, and all of the rest. It took me a few years to digest all of the albums, some more, some less. But by the time Bloodflowers came out, I was really an extremist Cure fan. The Dream Tour, Madrid, La Riviera, year 2000, 17th or March. I wasn't really sure of what to expect of my first Cure concert, I was nervous, excited and still a kid. I went with my best friend and my brother and his friends. Honestly I didn't care about the setlist, I knew for sure that I was going to enjoy it a lot, buy I have to admit that I really really really wanted them to play Pictures of You. I was really afraid that they wouldn't play it and that it could be the only chance of my life to see the band live, because of the rumors about the disintegration of the band after that tour. I was just 18 at that time, still a kid and I had only been to two concerts then.

I can clearly remember how it started: Out Of This World, which for sure was my favourite songs on Bloodflowers. It was simply a magical moment, from there on the concert went just the best way I could expect. And then it came, Pictures of You. When the song began I got totally paralyzed, watching Robert and Gallup face to face playing those perfect sets of notes, filling the air with the most beautiful sound there can be. I remember my brother calling my attention and saying: there you have it! But I guess I was too concentrated on the music to say anything. God that was really beautiful, one of those unique moments of your life that you know you will remember forever.

August 2nd, 2002 Benicassim Festival. That was my second Cure concert. I was disappointed that I was only going to be able to see the band for an hour, and I wanted more. I remember that that summer I wasn't going to go to the festival, instead I was going to fill up my geeky computer boy need by attending a Lan Party in Valencia. I already had the ticket of the Lan Campus Party but then the Line Up of the festival came out: The Cure!!! and Radiohead!! About three hours after that I cancelled my ticket for the Party in Valencia and I was buying the ticket for the Benicassim FiberFib Concert. As I was saying, it was a pity that The Cure were only going to play for about an hour, but you never know what's going to happen, and luckyly for me, Sigur Ros, another band that I was really excited to see, cancelled their tour, and the organization of the festival offered The Cure to play double time, and so they did :)

Again, the concert started with Out Of This World. I wasn't expecting to feel as sensitive with this concert as I had been with the one in Madrid two years ago, but something happened. I went to the concert with my girlfriend. Since we had meet she had started to listen to the Cure a lot, and it was already one of her favourite bands already. She expected a lot from the show. Before the band came out, a few minutes before the crowd started to clap and cheer them on. I could feel some kind of small shake around my hands. The shackle spread though my body, and by the time they started playing, I swear that I was totally shaking, I could even feel my teeth shaking, something that has never ever happened to me again. I was like a dream coming true, I was really about to see the band again. I just couldn't believe it. The concert went smooth as butter, with a very happy ending which I enjoined all the way. There, with such a big amount of people, it was like a dream coming true. Again, one of the best days of my life.

The next concert was the day of my birthday two years after that. Me and my girlfriend took a 12 hour train to get to Santiago de Compostela, a city in Galicia the north of Spain. 16th July 2004. Nothing much to say about that concert, besides that it was truly amazing. The sound, the temperature and atmosphere, everything was simply perfect. I could see the mountains far behind, the sunset, with cold breezes of air cooling me down. I really needed to take a leak at some point, but the toilets where so far away and there was such a big line that I didn't want to miss a single second of the concert, I had to hold onto it and trust me, I almost exploded at the end :). That was the last concert with a 5 man lineup that I got to see. The concert was slightly longer than 2 hours and it ended with Faith, long version. I remember a couple, a goth couple crying close to me and I understood that they were feeling what I had felt four years ago when I listened for the first time to Pictures of You. I had a very nice feeling of being around people who felt the same way as I did in that moment. It was also beautiful and sad at the same time.

August 5th, 2005, Benicassim Spain. I wasn't planning on going to the festival that year, but again The Cure were playing so I had no choice. It was my first concert with Porl back in the band, and it was really nice. The truth is that I wasn't as suprised as the older concerts, don't know if it was because I had already seen them 3 times, of because it was a 4-piece lineup. The concert was good and I really enjoyed it, but it wasn't as emotional as the previous ones. At least I got to hear songs like The Blood or Push live :)

2008. I was lucky enough to see the band twice in the last tour. Palacio de los Deportes Madrid and Rotterdam. Both shows were really nice but I must say that it is whole different experience to see the band as 4-piece than as a 5-piece. Although Porl is the best guitar player the Cure could ever have, I really miss Roger at the keyboards.

(From: Javier Quevedo Fernández, Madrid, Spain)

July 26, 2008

"I'm marked for Life"...

My first encounter with The Cure was in 1980, when my father brought 17 Seconds at home, I was very young (5 years old), but my parents have always listened to music, and my father had some very strange tastes. Other albums too found their way home, but I was too young to appreciate them. I heard them from my parents...

One week-end, Sunday lunch time, we watched TV (a programm called "L'echo des Savanes" starring famous rock bands) and they a introduced a group who had some success in France, The Cure...It was in 1982, at the end of spring, it was nearly the end of school, that's why I remember the day...The Cure came on stage, they played tracks from Pornography, I don't remember how many, but A Strange Day was very impressive for a 7-year-old boy.

For the following years, there was always Cure music at home, along with magazines with pictures and interviewes of Robert and co....Others albums followed Pornography, then came the year 1985 in France, and suddenly everybody got to know The Cure; Robert became huge and was everywhere on TV and other media. Some older friends (I was 10 years old) told me that their brothers liked The Cure, so they listened to them too...When I told them that I already knew that band, I almost became a God to their eyes, you know what children and teenagers are like...

My father and I went to see them during the Kissing tour '87 in Bordeaux. I was 12, and my father wanted to protect me because he was afraid of the crowd (in France, The Cure always had a bad reputation because of the audience, they have reputation as junkies alkies. Back then, a lot of adults didn't like them because of the picture painted by the press and jealous French rock bands...). I only remenber the video "Tea Time" and the sound very loud for my 12-year-old ears...

Then came publicity for Disintegration on TV, the sound of a clock ticking and the days left for the album release. It was the first album I bought with my own money. I earned it by taking empty bottles from a restaurant to a glass container... I bought on tape; CDs had just appeared and were VERY expensive. For my birthday, a schoolfriend, his parents and his brother offered me a ticket to see the band in Bordeaux (again) during the Prayer Tour. We went there by car and took our seats to see the gig (again, the parents were afraid of the crowd). I was 14, and I remember the lights, and the tracks from Disintegration (oh, the chimes from Plainsong).

The years passed, I started to work, and the Wish tour stormed the planet. For the first time, I went to a Cure gig all alone with friend...I still remember a lot of things, even 16 years on, I was at the front row, very hot (yet again in Bordeaux), excited, the lights, the arrival of the band on stage, etc... Due to excitement, I didn't sleep for two nights...Then, I started to listen to other bands, but always connected to The Cure, my English improved, and magazines turned up at my house, in both French and English. The Cure always stayed like a toy we'd played with for a long time and that we left for others, but I always returned to it whenever memorable events in my life occurred...

Then came Wild Mood Swings, and the great deception, but having a new Cure album out, it spurred me on to dig up all the others, again and again. At that time, I started to have a good collection of items (discs, interviewes, collectors albums, bootlegs, some very, too, expensive...).

Bloodflowers came out, and I told myself, well, a new album, not a masterpiece, but a good one. I went and see them in Grenoble, I was working very hard, the show was disappointing, but seeing them on stage is always a grateful experience. The Cure came out in 2004, and I told myself, that at last, the group found his sound with this new line-up. I met my wife-to-be, I remember one of her first sentences "If we get married, I know that I'll wed a little part of The Cure as well". I thought "pffff, that's real, 18 years of listening, reading, and seeing The Cure, I'm marked for Life".

We saw them in St-Malo in Summer 2005, I remember of seing the return of Porl, but the gig wasn't really fantastic...Then started the long wait of the new album. During our wedding ceremony, I asked my wife to play Lovesong in the church, and Doing the Unstuck when we left (for the lyrics...). Some friends told me that it had always been my dream to have some Cure tracks played in a church and it's true. But I keep Faith for some funerals...

The 4Tour started, and I became excited, I wanted to see them in Paris at least one time in my life (The Cure in Paris, it's an old lovesong), my wife got hold of the tickets, and offered me mine at Christmas. I cried for the second time in my adult life (the first was at the City Hall when we married). We went and saw them with a close friend who was my bestman at my wedding... This show, that was a childhood dream, and I wasn't disappointed, 3h 30mins of live music; my wife with me, and there's nothing more I can say...The singles arrived, and, deep inside me, I'm disappointed. They sound like the 1987-1992 era, which for me is the real sound of The Cure...Nevertheless, the new singles don't convince me. Like with the last few albums, I'm a bit scared of what will be on the new one. When I hear "Freakshow", I think The Cure are very bad when they try to make bad U2 stuff...

My wife is expecting a baby, I told her that I'll play Plainsong when he is here, just for the chimes... And when I die, I asked her to play Faith at the funerals, the live version of Turin in 1989...I only hope that my son (or daughter) will have a good taste in music, like that of his (or her) father.

(From: Stanislas, Chateugay, France)

Out of this world

I spent my life trying to fit in. I crumbled to peer group pressure and was your typical top 10 music fan. I never really tried to find the music that "I" truly liked - I just went with what was popular. I have memories of hearing The Cure in my teens, but not being brave enough to stand up and say "that is something I really like".

At 19, having split from my boyfriend of over two years I started finding different music - and I discovered "Thursday Night - Alternative Night" at Club Atlantis in Perth. My ears were starting to open. The Cure, The Smiths, Sisters of Mercy - all new sounds. I bought Standing On the Beach - and found I liked it. I then bought Disintegration - yes, I liked that too - but I didn't have anyone else around me to confirm that this was an OK thing to do (sad, I know).

I then met my now husband, who is not a music fan. To me, music makes the world make sense, but for him, he is happy to sit and enjoy silence. In the year that we were married, a colleague offered me two tickets to see the Cure in Perth - but I really couldn't afford it (and had no-one who would go with me), so I passed the offer up. To cheer myself up, I bought Wish, and dreamed myself into another world. Life got hectic in 1996, with my husband being diagnosed with lymphoma. I had no idea that Wild Mood Swings had been released, let alone that The Cure will still recording. My world was my husband and my focus was getting him well again.

Then came Bloodflowers. Out Of This World was my undoing - which life was real?? Soon after, The Cure came to town. A girlfriend agreed to come along with me. I warned her that according to a website that I had JUST found (Chain of Flowers) the band were playing their darker, more atmospheric stuff. The funny thing is, I thought that I KNEW The Cure - I mean, I owned Standing on A Beach, Disintegration, Wish and Bloodflowers, so I thought there would be no surprises.

10 October 2000 - The Cure played at the Perth Entertainment Centre.

Here is the setlist: Out Of This World, Watching Me Fall, Want, Fascination St., Open, Where the Birds Always Sing, Maybe Someday, Shake Dog Shake, Edge Of The Deep Green Sea, Inbetween Days, Sinking, The Kiss, Prayers for Rain, One Hundred Years, End, 39, Bloodflowers 1st encore: There Is No If, Trust, Plainsong, Disintegration 2nd encore: All Cats Are Grey, Faith 3rd encore: Just Like Heaven, A Forest

OH MY GOD!!! My ears exploded. I thought that I knew The Cure, how wrong I was. Whilst my girlfriend was whinging that they weren't playing their commercial hits, and that they did TOO many encores, I was in a world of my own - the band were playing only to me and they kept coming back because that is what I wanted. After that, I went on a journey through the back-catalogue. I bought everything I could get my hands on and I listened to NOTHING but The Cure for 12 months. Finally I found my world, my music. With the release of the self-titled album, my passion waned (slightly), it wasn't Bloodflowers. I still loved the band, but I was exploring worlds outside of the Cure. When the 4 tour was announced, I decided that I wasn't passionate enough to warrant following them around Oz, I would see them in Perth and that would be enough to keep me happy. How wrong I was. The passion re-ignited, and thanks to the "Craig to Jo" speech, I jumped on a plane and followed them to Adelaide.

After queuing for 2 hours before the show, the doors opened and I managed to jag a spot right at the front, in between Robert and Simon. I made friends with people who shared my passion and even met people who I knew through Chain of Flowers. The Cure IS a small world. Nothing will ever beat that experience - I absolutely loved it, and am now immersed in The Cure world again. The North American leg of the tour has been amazing - I seem to have moved away from my "real world" and am living in COF land - it is a true addiction. It is wonderful to share time with like-minded people.

If only I had met you all back when I needed a guiding light to REAL music.I am now hoping that there is ANOTHER tour next year - maybe for the 30th Anniversary. If there is, I will be there. I will travel and meet my friends to share in an experience that may even put my Adelaide memory to shame....... I hope so.

(From: Jo Westacott, Perth, Australia)

July 23, 2008

"My safety blanket"

I can't remember exactly how old I was when I got into The Cure, I guess I must have been about 8 years old. I had The Head On The Door album on record and tape and listened to it religiously. That album was my saftey blanket through some very tough times as a child and to this day, no matter what may be happening in the world, if I put it on nothing matters anymore. I adore them. I haven't heard very much recent stuff but what I have heard I like.

It's not the same but I like that, I like when bands are human and accept change as part of life and incorporate it into their work. It can be difficult if the new music is shit and you love a bands old albums but they are people too, I just see it in the same way as art, some paintings by an artist I will adore, others I dont care for at all but I don't get agitated by it. I still have the record from when I was little put it's all played out and worn.
I think smudgy bob is easily the best.

(From: Kirstin O'Shea, UK)

A question of tats

The first song I heard was In Between Days when i was 8. I liked it, but I had no idea that the group was The Cure.

The years went by and, when I was 11, a friend gave me a tape. It was Standing On A Beach,
I really didn’t know what to expect. When I put on my walkman, the first song I listened to was Charlotte Sometimes, then Boys Don’t Cry, then recognized the song I'd heard years before, In Between Days, which was a shock. A month after, somebody gave me Faith….. Since that moment, almost 17 years ago, I’ve been into The Cure.

The Cure came into my life and brought a lot of changes. I was changing my mind, changing my life, I just began to write stories and The Cure came just to save my life, literally. The first time I listened to them, I was in a karate class and I just dropped that.

Of course my relationship with The Cure has changed, it has become closer. For me, every moment of my life is related to a Cure song, maybe its weird, but it is the truth, specific moments and great changes have been marked by a Cure song. When I met The Cure, it was really good music and the discovery of a new group, a new life, a new way of thinking. Now, it is like someone’s said, it is the soundtrack of my life, it is just devotion for The Cure.
(From: Yessica Sanchez, Mexico City, Mexico)

"A beautiful chaos"

When I was 8 years old ( now I'm 30), my older brothers were all the way into the punk style... It's 1986, Standing On The Beach is on , A Forest is the next song, suddenly something happens to me, that voice calls me, make me feel different, but i was too young to know what i know now... That beat invade my head and stay there for years, over and over... The years go by, and my musical experience has change, always under The Cure influence. I changed my hair, my clothes, everything! That music made me change my life, it was like someone was written my life, lyrics became real, words so strong and beautiful, it's a beautiful chaos.

(From: Carlos Astros, Venezuela)