While I am still processing memories from those wonderful European concerts of last autumn, The Cure already have new tour dates in North America on the horizon. So, maybe time for a look back on that special Cure night at the Ziggo Dome in Amsterdam on 25 November 2022.
When the ‘Cure Tour Euro 22’ was announced in December 2021, it was far from certain if it could go ahead. Due to the pandemic, bands constantly had to reschedule or cancel concerts. The Cure too had challenges in the planning of this tour. In December 2022, just before the final date of the tour, an interesting article about these challenges appeared in IQ, the news platform for the live music business. It features interviews with Cure UK booking agent Martin Hopewell, his team and several European promoters. Apparently, at one point they had planned six different time schedules, routes and associated venues as options. Among them there was an outdoor variant in the summer of 2022. It would pass beautiful parks, lakes, stadiums and castles, in case there still would be indoor restrictions.
And then there was the new album. Or not the new album.
Songs Of A Lost World was intended to be released before the European tour. But at the first show in Riga, Latvia, on 6 October 2022, the band played new songs live, while still no new album in sight. Obviously, there were reasons for this. Back in 2019 Robert Smith told LA Times that, as ever, the recording of his vocals were holding up the album. In March 2022, at the BandLab NME Awards, Robert said they would start mixing in April. Writing, recording and mixing music is a creative process. In an ideal world there shouldn’t be deadlines for art. I wouldn’t want The Cure to release an album they are not yet happy with. I hope they take all the time they need. The new songs, as already performed beautifully live, will be worth the wait to come out as best as possible on record.
So, fortunately, The Cure’s first big venue tour since 2016 could go ahead. The Dutch were also happy about The Cure’s return to the Netherlands. By the end of 2021, the Ziggo Dome in Amsterdam was already completely sold out. That’s about one year in advance. In fact, on the eve of the concert, more than 17.000 people were still looking for a ticket via TicketSwap. A second date could have been easily added.
shows of a lost world
At the time of announcement, the tour was called ‘Cure Tour Euro 22’. But when it started it appeared to be renamed ‘Shows Of A Lost World’, in line with the updated title for the new album (as Robert also announced in the BandLab NME Awards interview).
This tour of 46 shows across 19 European countries has a completely different concept compared to the 2016 tour. As the design of the announcement and the revelations about the new album already somewhat suggested, the emphasis is on the heavier, more atmospheric and melancholic work. Something I was already hoping for and what I personally like best about The Cure. No eclectic sets with a bit of everything like in 2016, but emotional overall experiences, where songs are selected that fit well with each other and with the new material. A bit of the same vibe as the ‘Dream Tour’ in 2000. It turned out to be an emotionally intense tour, with Robert regularly in tears singing.
On the first date in Riga, The Cure debuted two unreleased songs live, Alone and Endsong. It’s not really that exceptional the band tries new songs live first. They did that many times before, like with songs which would end up on Seventeen Seconds, Faith, Pornography etc.
As Robert told LA Times, the new material indeed sounds more in line with atmospheric albums like Disintegration. So, maybe not surprisingly, the band played a heavily Disintegration-oriented set in Riga, featuring seven songs from that album.
As the tour progressed, The Cure added songs to the sets that fit nicely with the new work (Cold, At Night, The Last Day Of Summer, The Hanging Garden, The Drowning Man) and had not been performed live for a long time (The Figurehead, Faith).
And of course, the big surprise was the return of guitarist and keyboard player Perry Bamonte, once started as a Cure roadie and then band member between 1990 and 2005. With him, The Cure live are a six-piece again for the first time since 1987. Perry contributes to a deeper, fuller and more floating sound, which is mixed live by Bloodflowers engineer Paul Corkett (also presumed to be the producer of the new Cure album).
Back to Amsterdam. Friday 25 November 2022 was a dreary, typically Dutch autumn day. A fitting season for this tour. Autumn themes as decay, loss and farewell are also reflected in the new songs. The contrast in Amsterdam Bijlmer, where the venue is located, couldn’t be bigger between the orange-clad Dutch football supporters leaving the nearby Johan Cruijff Arena (renamed ‘House of Orange’ for the occasion), where they just watched the World Cup match against Ecuador on big screens and the moody dark-dressed Cure fans heading for the Ziggo Dome.
Autumn rain also sounded as a mood-setter through the Ziggo Dome’s hall installation. Twilight Sad, once again support just like in 2016, set the key to minor for the incoming audience and gratefully left the stage after a passionate 45-minutes performance.
During the changeover, some rumbling resounded and when the hall lights dimmed at 20:15, a thunderstorm went through the speakers. Strobes flashed across the pitch-dark stage like thunderbolts. At the same time, a new mysterious instrumental ambient intro was subtly hearable. After a couple of minutes, the band took the stage with Robert as last. His silhouette recognisable from thousands against the lightning bolts and the starry night backdrop. As often on this tour, he was wearing a shirt of one of his childhood heroes, Alex Harvey.
Alone is the gorgeous opening song of the tour and probably of the new album as well. There is something dreamy and wistful about the music. A long instrumental intro with shoegazy guitars, in which Robert walks along the stage to greet the audience. The screens behind the band zoom in on planet Earth from a starry sky. Earth is spinning and moving away into infinite space towards the end of the song. Is this the ‘Lost World’?
For his greeting after the opening song, Robert had rehearsed the Dutch word for thanks, which, with his heavy English accent, sounded a bit funny like ‘bedenkt!’. The sequence of the set in Amsterdam was roughly similar to most of the Shows Of A Lost World. Lovesong was followed by the heartbreakingly new jewel And Nothing Is Forever, which thematically could be a sort of follow-up to it. ‘Promise you’ll be with me in the end. Say we’ll be together with no regret. For however far away. You will remember me tonight’.
All five songs newly debuted on this tour were played in Amsterdam. Besides Alone, And Nothing Is Forever and Endsong, the more catchy A Fragile Thing was also in the main set and the intensely sad lament I Can Never Say Goodbye, about Robert’s late brother, formed the overture of the first encore.
trust the figurehead
A particular song in the Amsterdam set was Trust, a melancholic gem from the Wish album, enriched live with a beautiful piano solo by keyboard player Roger O’Donnell. The special attention for Wish probably wasn’t accidental, as the 30th anniversary re-issue came out exactly on the day of the Ziggo Dome show. In addition, there would be a Wish listening party on twitter after the concert with Robert as special guest. Robert introduced Trust with a nod to his youthfulness: ‘…this is a song from the Wish album, which apparently came out 30 years ago… I personally don’t believe that for a second… ’cause I’m only like… 39… so I’m not sure how it works…’.
Another surprise was The Figurehead, a heavy song from The Cure’s darkest album Pornography. Not played in the Netherlands since the concert at the Thialf IJsstadion in Heerenveen on the 1989 Prayer Tour. Robert gave a local touch to the line ‘I can lose myself in Chinese art and Amsterdam girls’, as he often does.
The Figurehead was in the middle of a series of heavier songs, between Burn and At Night. This apparently was a bit too much of a good thing for the occasional Amsterdam visitors, some of whom had (audibly) come for Friday night drinks. Another highlight of the main set was A Strange Day, also from Pornography, and also not played in the Netherlands for a while (since 2008).
Endsong, about 10 minutes long, closes the main set everywhere, and probably the album. This must be the ‘intense doom and gloom’ song Robert was talking about on BBC6 in 2020. One of The Cure’s heaviest songs since the Bloodflowers album. It even reminded me a bit of Joy Division the first time I heard it. Drums with lots of toms and heavy, monotone synths. The lyrics are downright depressing. ‘It’s all gone. No hopes, no dreams, no world. No… I don’t belong. It’s all gone. I will lose myself in time. It won’t be long. It’s all gone. Left alone with nothing. The end of every song.’ Remarkably, the last phrase ‘the end of every song’ is also in Alone.
At the beginning of the song, bassist Simon Gallup raises his bass up to heaven. He does something similar towards the end of And Nothing Is Forever. It has become a sort of ritual on the tour. It looks like a homage, touching.
In Endsong, the band uses a big red ‘blood moon’ as visual support. It reminded me that the working title of the new album was Live From The Moon for a while.
More heavy stuff came in the first encore. Robert, who had not been very talkative so far, now had an announcement. ‘Sorry I’m not talking much, but… it’s for the best. I’m trying to be mysterious. I realised when I looked through like (…) what we played before… we don’t seem to have played some songs here which is really weird… (…) you’ll see what I mean in a minute.’ What he meant were the no less than three songs that would follow from the Disintegration album, including Prayers For Rain, on this tour less frequently played, with Robert’s long cry during ‘raaaaaaaiiin’.
The second and final encore was reserved for a selection of Cure pop songs. I guess the band didn’t want everyone to go home too depressed 😉 Among them, of course, Friday I’m In Love. Robert had already done a kind of parody intro of the song a couple of times on this tour, when they played it on another day than Friday (a ‘wrong’ day). Now, however, it was Friday (‘Are we playing this on the right night?’), so he couldn’t do that. Later that night, during the twitter listening party, Robert tweeted: ‘It has become a really wonderful moment in the show… even on the ‘wrong’ nights (thank you Amsterdam!)’.
During the last song Boys Don’t Cry the Ziggo Dome finally erupted, and The Cure left Amsterdam in euphoria after all. Robert hugged Simon, did his goodbye walk and said: ‘Thank you, that was fucking great. THANK YOU!!! See you again…’.
After 2 hours and 45 minutes, the only Dutch Show Of A Lost World had come to an end. But Robert himself was not finished yet for this evening. After the gig he was invited to take part in Tim’s Twitter Listening Party in honour of the album Wish. Apparently backstage at the Ziggo Dome, he provided interesting and funny insights in the inspiration, writing and recording of The Cure’s 30-year old album. For those who missed it, you can replay the entire Twitter feed here while listening to the album at the same time.
More great pictures of this show on John’s FB page here.