The Cure announced their 2016 North American tour back in November with Toronto slotted in for one of a couple of dates in June. The curious (including us) did the math and wondered and hoped this might mean a headline slot at the already scheduled Bestival Toronto. These smarty speculations were right. Toronto-area fans rejoiced: for open air festivals & venues have always been the best way to see Robert Smith and his Cure. With a band this beloved, who favors quality over quantity and mounts big, continent traversing (and so, slightly less frequent) tours, the priority is doing it right and covering as much ground as they can rather than grinding out for a few weeks full of bumpy tour buses.
Bestival Toronto looks to be a perfect place to bring The Cure back this summer for another reason. Bestival, now in its second year in Toronto, has long been a unique and free-thinking, fan-centric and experience-focused festival held annually on The Isle of Wight and the U.K. installation (with its hallmark boundless creativity, pageantry, and wizardry) is not unlike the band in question. Bestival was also the site of one of The Cure’s by now legendary epic length gigs full of treats and surprises for the faithful. The 2011 Bestival show featured a 32 song set including, reportedly, the first performance of “Caterpillar” in 20 years. The band’s 2016’s North American tour promises to draw upon 37 years of history featuring hits, favourites, rarities and as yet unreleased tracks. And we think, a new stage set up befitting the spectacle that sets Bestival Toronto apart from the rest.
According to Bestival Founder Rob Da Bank, the Cure “had to be dragged off stage after a three-hour mammoth greatest hits set” in 2011, audio of which was later released as a live album.
“We are very very happy to be back at our favourite festival,” Robert Smith said. We can’t wait to play a special set to show the future IS what it used to be…” (The Guardian)
The love is real. And those who meet these forces in Toronto on June 12 will be the recipient of something special coordinated by like minds that has never before done outside of Britain. Imagine a band with this track record, active since 1977, a global force since the early 80s, finding new tricks in their bag. Yet, while elsewhere the internet trolls spoil every TV show and fans want to rip apart the last vestiges of artist privacy as an act of “devotion”, The Cure digs deep, finding surprises and ways to show appreciation that cut through so much digital noise and ungrateful Facebook griping. In recent years, when they could be, instead, oh, golfing or becoming full time beach bums, the Cure’s work ethic has continued apace, including secret shows and a pair of 2014 Christmas concerts at Hammersmith London where the 40-song marathon included The Top in full, the first airing of “The Wailing Wall” and “The Empty World” in 30 years and the first EVER performance of “Man Inside My Mouth”!
So forgive us if we have little patience for the nitpickers who have lately nested under the baseboards of Facebook comment strings of band pages and bred rapidly in the dark, not caring who sees them and leaving their flinty, dirty mess dotting across the shared space we have to step in and around. To them we say only:
Or we say nothing at all, and simply wish there was a strong enough spray, something slightly illegal from the shops that sell Gremlins, to banish them from our otherwise joyous scene known as the Bestival experience, now with added Cure! For others (us) are lucky enough not to be able to exactly count how many Cure concerts we’ve seen from 1985 to 2016, right here in our own backyard practically, in ol’ Toronto, many thousands of jetlaggy miles away from London (the concert count of this writer is more than 7, maybe less than 10. A lot. No complaints.)
There’s a quieter set of fans different from those who complain and those others who helpfully catalog these rich musical histories online. We are from the time and live-forever youthful mindset when we didn’t archive and document, we just lived. We bought the T-Shirt with money earned in minimum wage part time jobs, and we never questioned the logic of this move for a second, even though great rock T-shirts have a terrible tendency to wander into the homes and hidey holes of dastardly siblings, boyfriends (“for always and ever”as a year) friends and friends’ boyfriends (occasionally of the sort who discover the band, and the T-shirts, preserved, a decade later, and shamelessly make off with that friend’s heart and priceless collection of Cure T-Shirts on their quest to become Rock Stars themselves, with middling results.)
Forgive the digression into the world of Rock T-Shirts, particularly Cure T-Shirts, as the preoccupation of some future tome and the symbol of so much of 80s and 90s youth culture (and memoir). For the T-Shirts were such important anti-fashion, and later became high fashion. They were team uniforms; they were an ideal imaginary country’s flags. They still generate friendships and conversation. Pictures of all of us in them form the backbone of Tumblr and no one’s ever found anything cooler to this day. But one could either live or carefully archive, never both back then. The Cure were outsiders, originals, and then made their own genre of music change the boundaries of what could be pop/ular, what Alternative could be, what a flash in the pan they weren’t. Those T-Shirts were the best investment we ever made.
When The Cure hits the stage at Bestival Toronto they’ll be returning to a place, like so many places people gather, where they’ve loved this band truly for more than 30 years. These spaces are not the crowded messes that the fun-adverse and really very silly “too old for it” fear, rather they are happy, exciting, religious places of open air worship and community that are created at special times by the hands of visionary music lovers. And with all this open air and space, wherever people will be standing or sitting to suit their mood, from the loyal, drinks forfeiting barrier devotees to the hillside shepherd-type, and even the 40 year old Security guys pretending not to know the words, they will look at each other, seeing recognition and feeling untold memories flood in. Young, discerning people, second generation fans, will fall in love this night, forming new memories around it. Dreams of new bands will be hatched, guitars will be bought soon after. And The Cure, ageless and timeless, will still feel new and exciting. This is guaranteed. Any other forecast is not to be trusted!
For The Cure don’t do it halfway, they never have, they never will. Whether releasing new music or not. Casual fans, forgetful fans, greedy fans, dig deep into that back catalog, way back and find those treasures you might have missed. Faith. Pornography. The Head on the Door (not just the singles, but the whole damn thing, I urge you). Because you might be tested, challenged, surprised with how deep the vault is and why it is more perfect than these times of ours deserve. On a June night in Toronto at Woodbine Park in the lush and green east end, The Cure will defy genre and labels and play, quite simply “Cure Music”. The critics of old with their quips and their quivers full of schoolyard barbs are gone: not invited, not required, nor have any place in the era of post-post everything. Post-punk, if we must label music, worked so well. What has ever bettered it? What words are needed? Fans of music know. Words fail in the face of music. Shoo. Get moving. Go play outside.
The Cure will traverse the U.S. and Canada in May and June 2016 on their North American tour. Information and tour updates are posted on the band’s Facebook page and official site. They will also headline Bestival in the U.K. in September. Bestival Toronto information and tickets available here. Truly exhaustive & inspiring Cure news, gigs and footage can be found on Slicing Up Eyeballs‘ archived website.
The Cure: Like the Head on the Door Was A Dream: on the record’s 30 year anniversary, and my 30 year love affair.