A Forest – TROS Top 50 1980

Until mid 1980 The Cure had only enjoyed some ‘underground’ TV coverage in the Netherlands. Alternative youth magazine NEON had showed live footage from New Pop ’79 in Rotterdam and a bit of the concert at the Melkweg in Amsterdam in December of the same year. In April 1980 The Cure made their  first Top of the Pops appearance. Maybe this would sort of set the tone for their future music chart TV performances. Slightly bored, not trying too hard to playback in sync and make a bit of a joke out of it. This definitely applies to The Cure’s Dutch music chart TV debut, A Forest at the TROS Top 50 show.

The TROS Top 50 was the hit parade from broadcasting association TROS between 1978-1985. Every Thursday it was on the radio and every two weeks there was also a TV show. I think the latter only during summer when Toppop (the most popular music TV show at the time) was on leave. Because of the pillarisation in the Netherlands you had several charts and broadcasts, which can be confusing. Anyway, probably at the beginning of July 1980 The Cure flew in to do a mime performance of A Forest at the TV studios in Hilversum, just before the single got its Dutch release. Maybe that’s why they used the album version as playback tape. Today, exactly 39 years after it was broadcasted, that historical performance has been published again on YouTube. It was already online, but not yet in this very good quality, which makes it quite special. Watch it here!

Update April 2020: here’s a full version (uploaded October 2019, quality not as good as on the TopPop account, but nice to see the full performance).

Primary – Star Club 1981


On March 27th 1981 The Cure’s new 7″ single Primary was released in the Netherlands. It was the first and only single off the upcoming Faith LP. In those days The Cure didn’t do a lot of music chart TV programmes yet. They had only done a mime performance of A Forest for TROS Top 50 in 1980. But that TV show ended later that year.

Star Club was sort of a follow-up programme from the same broadcasting association. It had a slightly broader concept, also presenting current trends, items about films and interviews. Star Club debuted at the beginning of 1981. If I’m right it only lasted one year or maybe even only one season.

Probably sometime during March or (beginning of?) April 1981 The Cure flew in to Holland to do a mime performance of their new single for Star Club. A great recording of that pretty rare performance recently resurfaced on YouTube. It is dated 27 April 1981 but I guess that must be the broadcasting date. You can watch it here. And here you can read more about The Cure’s quick visit in a nice interview Muziek Expres did with the band on the very day of the show.

Countdown

Countdown was a weekly pop music show from the Veronica broadcasting association. It was one of the two big music programs on Dutch national TV, Toppop from broadcasting association Avro being the other. Countdown ran from the end of the 70s until the beginning of the 90s. While Toppop was more dominant in the 70s, Countdown probably was the most popular music TV show in Holland during the 80s.

Most of the shows were being recorded with audience at the Concordia building in Bussum, a village close to Amsterdam. In its heyday, Adam Curry (later to become MTV VJ) was the host of Countdown. He became quite a celebrity in Holland. Tall in person but also in hair, wearing an impressive fashionable mullet by 1987.

The Cure were quite regular guests at Countdown. They played at the Countdown Festival in Amsterdam in 1980 and visited the Countdown studios four times for miming performances from 1984 to 1987. In 1986 Countdown showed reports from the Pinkpop Festival in which The Cure were featured with some live bits and interviews. Also, over the years, the Tim Pope videos were broadcasted numerous times.

Below is – I hope – a complete overview of The Cure’s appearances on Countdown (not including their video broadcasts). If I still missed anything, please let me know!

Update July 2019: in the past couple of years a lot of Cure Countdown videos were removed from YouTube. Some have been uploaded again, but with watermark. Where possible I have updated the links below. For some videos unfortunately this means a downgrade. The links work on a computer from the Netherlands. Maybe not all of them on a mobile device or from another country.

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Ascension 1984

Countdown84-3The Cure spent quite some time around Ascension 1984, at the end of May and the beginning of June, in the Netherlands. It was the week in which Robert Smith was on the verge of a mental breakdown, forcing him to cancel the upcoming tour with Siouxsie & the Banshees and to take a break away from The Cure. Despite his state of mind, Robert delivered three powerful shows with The Cure in the Netherlands, with two of them on one day (!), and did a promo performance of the new single The Caterpillar for Dutch national TV. To understand what was going on that week, I think you would have to look back at about a year and a half before.

Since the last quarter of 1982, Robert Smith had been working non-stop with three bands. Next to The Cure, he became a guitarist with Siouxsie & the Banshees, recorded the hit single Dear Prudence with them, the live double LP/video Nocturne and their new studio album Hyaena. They had toured the UK and Europe in Autumn 1982, then Japan, New Zealand, Australia, some European festivals and Israel in 1983 and Europe again at the start of 1984. In the meantime, Robert had also formed a side project with Banshees-bassist Steven Severin called The Glove and recorded the album Blue Sunshine, released in August 1983. On top of it all, he kept The Cure going. Robert and Lol had recorded a string of singles with accompanying videos, did some shows as a four piece in the UK and the USA in the Summer of 1983 and then toured the UK and Europe again in Spring 1984. In addition, Robert had written and recorded the new Cure LP The Top, which was pretty much a solo effort. He alternately performed with the Banshees and The Cure on several TV shows (The Tube, Oxford Road Show, Top of the Pops) during this period. He had also helped out video director Tim Pope with his single I Want To Be A Tree. One can imagine he couldn’t carry on like this.

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