Seeking The Cure at Malahide
Boys mightn't cry - but they certainly listen to a wide selection of tunes when they're growing up.
Born on April 21, 1959, Robert Smith's earliest childhood memories are from the 1960s. His brother (13 years his senior), and sister (10 years his senior), would play music that eventually infiltrated young Robert's psyche. And caused him to write a masterpiece like The Cure's 1989 album Disintegration, which someone - not ridiculously - compared to "the Nietzschean idea of transcending despair through art".
The older brother's record collection included Captain Beefheart, Pink Floyd, blues; the older sister's was more pop-orientated. The future author of anthems like Boys Don't Cry, Lovecats, In Between Days and Friday I'm In Love recalled that it was a strange environment, "me knowing the words to quite trippy stuff. I had no idea what it meant, but I had early memories of singing really dumb but glorious pop songs, like Dream by the Everly Brothers.
"If that came on the radio now, I would still sing along. That put the idea of melody into my head", Smith said in 2012, adding that his parents were into Gilbert and Sullivan - "brilliant songs with great melodies. Meanwhile my brother would smoke dope in the garage with his mates and listen to Eric Clapton."
At age 13 Robert went to his first gig - Rory Gallagher at the Brighton Dome. "Rory Gallagher, he was a genius," Robert said of the Ballyshannon Buddha. "I bought a ticket on a whim. I got my dad to phone up." Robert went on the train from his home in Blackpool. Before the show, he "stopped in the pub, had two pints". Asked in an interview with The Word magazine how he was able to secure two pints at 13, Robert explained, rationally enough: "I wore big glam shoes when I wanted to get served in the pub. In those days you got served in the pub if you were 10, to be honest. But I came away from that gig thinking it was so f***ing excellent that I went on a series of Brighton jaunts for the next few years to see whoever was playing," Robert said referring to Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, Alex Harvey and others.
I can only imagine that the 30,000 die-hards who go to see The Cure at Malahide Castle on June 8 will have the same reaction, leaving the show as 13-year-old Robert did on seeing Rory Gallagher all those years ago. And the antithesis of Robert's reaction to David Bowie's show in the early 1970s at "the horrible, soulless Earls Court in London, when he played for less than an hour. Now, that ticket cost me an awful lot of money. My friends and I had saved up our dinner money. In a funny way, that was the biggest legacy I ever got from Bowie".
It taught Robert to never underestimate how much "this means to the people that come to see you... what he was doing was genius, but there wasn't enough of it. He had a million songs he could have done, but he didn't. He went home. And we left feeling rubbish."
The Cure play Malahide Castle on Saturday, June 8, 4pm