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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Muziek Expres was one of the oldest pop music magazines in the Netherlands. It already existed as of 1956. Until the mid 70s it was by far the biggest Dutch music magazine. The last (monthly) edition was released in December 1989. In August 1980, The Cure got their (if I’m right) first feature article in Muziek Expres. Interestingly, it was an interview with Lol. He talks about the Dutch, doing concerts and the making of the Seventeen Seconds LP. Below you can read a translation of this article by Henk Bakker.
‘Simple music is an insult to the audience’
Very inconspicuously, within four years the English Cure made it into a prominent cult band. This is striking, because the trio, that later became a quartet, makes very special pop music which is not really easy listening. Henk Bakker talked to drummer Lol Tolhurst about the strange Cure-recipe…
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Probably the most exceptional tour The Cure did in the Netherlands, if not ever, is the Circus Tour 1981. Exclusively for the Dutch leg of the Picture Tour promoting the Faith album, The Cure chose a radical alternative to clubs or other concert venues. The band travelled zig-zag through the Netherlands performing their show under a circus tent with a capacity of about 2.000 people. During ten days the tent was being broken down after each gig, driven by trucks to the next town at night and then built up again to be in time for the show the following evening. There has been quite some (local) media attention for this short tour. I thought it would be nice to gather this information to create a sort of tour diary. Below is an attempt to do this. Of course I’m happy to add things if you have more stories, memories, pictures, clippings, anything to share…
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Today The Cure announced a 30-date tour across Europe in the Autumn of 2016, their first major European tour since 2008. They will also be playing in the Netherlands on November 13th. The concert will take place at the rather new 17.000 capacity venue the Ziggo Dome in Amsterdam, which will be a first for The Cure. They will be breaking with the tradition of playing at the Rotterdam Ahoy’ Sportpaleis, which The Cure visited 8 times since 1985. The last time they played in Amsterdam was in 1984.
In the past The Cure have played in Amsterdam on 12 December 1979 (Melkweg), 23 May 1980 (Paradiso), 17 October 1980 (Jaap Edenhal), 21 June 1981 (Circus Tent), 6 May 1982 (Carré) and 30 August 1984 (Jaap Edenhal).
On 2 November 1980, The Cure played the final date of their tour across Western Europe, for the second time around that year. It was in Rotterdam at the Hal 4 Utopia.
Not much is known about this gig. There is no recording circulating and, as far as I know, no pictures ever popped up somewhere. No other information to be found than a scan of the advert. But last December, Dutch online music magazine Muzine.nl published a ‘listening test’ with two members of the Dutch alternative rock band Spasmodique. They were being confronted with a couple of songs and were asked to give their comments. One song was The Cure’s Jumping Someone Else’s Train.
Singer Mark Ritsema commented: ‘The Cure has been more or less the most important influence on our first band Torpedos, the precursor of Spasmodique. With Torpedos we were once support act for The Cure at Hal 4 in Rotterdam. Robert Smith did the lights for us then. I still remember that we were quite impressed by their second album Seventeen Seconds.’
Guitarist Arjo Hijmans: ‘This is weird. Now that we’re talking about it, I even remember the date of that performance at Hal 4. It was 2 November 1980. And I remember that Reinier (Rietveld, the drummer)’s mum drove us with our complete backline in her Tin Snail….hahahaha.’
Thanks to Hans for the link.
On Sunday 29 July 1979, The Cure played their first ever gig abroad. It took place at the ‘Sterren in het bos’ (‘Stars in the forest’) Festival in Groningen, a city in the Northeast of the Netherlands. The Sterren in het bos festivals were organised in the ‘Sterrebos’ park on Sundays during the summers of the seventies up until 1983. It was free entrance. On most editions a couple of thousand visitors would turn up. In those days there was still quite a hippie-like atmosphere. Other bands that have played at the Sterren in het bos festival series include Fischer Z (1979), Echo & the Bunnymen (1980), The Sound (1981) and Comsat Angels (1982).
The Cure’s performance was in the afternoon. It’s probably mostly remembered due to a cloud-burst, transforming the park into a lake. At least two other local bands played that day: Suster Poppy and Plant. In the evening The Cure would do another show at a small club called Simplon, also in Groningen, perhaps to make it up for their soaked Groningen fans.
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Little is known about The Cure’s performance at the legendary and most beautiful venue of the Netherlands: Paradiso in Amsterdam. Of the many shows The Cure have done in Holland, they only have played one time at the Paradiso, which was on 23 May 1980. It was the fourth concert of their 6-date May tour across the Netherlands promoting the new album Seventeen Seconds (they would return a couple of times to Holland later that year). Support act on this tour were Fiction label mates The Passions.
The entrance fee at the Paradiso that night was 10 guilders, which is about 4,5 euros. As far as I know there is no recording of The Cure at Paradiso. Also it is unknown what songs they played, although it’s probable that the set will be more or less similar to the next day in Arnhem.
Last week a rare picture from The Cure (Robert) at Paradiso Amsterdam 1980 popped up on Twitter. Hopefully more will follow…
The 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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Today exactly 25 years ago, early in the morning, I went on my bicycle to the local record shop in the village where I lived to buy the new Cure album: Disintegration. It was released just four days before the concert at the Thialf IJsstadion in Heerenveen.
The record store had its show window entirely dedicated to The Cure’s new album. Jan, the owner, always did his best to make something special out of it. This time he had draped large spider webs all over the place (with some kind of cobweb spray) and hung toy rubber spiders in it. He had also put a lot of LP sleeves in there and one cardboard poster.
When he cleaned up the show window after some time, he gave me this poster (it’s about 60×60 cm). He also gave me one giant hairy rubber spider. I threw that one on stage during Lullaby at a Cure show later that year. Sorry if I scared them.
I kept the poster, so still got some official, genuine 25 years old Disintegration shop decoration… 😉
Thanks to Jan!
Some nice photos of The Cure live at the Muziekcentrum Vredenburg in Utrecht 31 May 1984 and at Pinkpop 1986. Here are the links:
Utrecht 1984: 1 – 2 – 3 – 4
Pinkpop 1986: 1 – 2 – 3 – 4
On this Sisters of Mercy fanpage there are lots of other rare live photos, like from Siouxsie & the Banshees at the Seaside Festival (Belgium) ’85 and at the Jaap Edenhal in Amsterdam on 23 April 1986.
Thanks to My Dominion NL for putting his impressive live archive online!