Pop Paradise Netherlands

There’s a new Dutch book out which also contains a chapter about The Cure. It’s called Popparadijs Nederland, written by Tom Steenbergen. Tom was, among other things, product and marketing manager at Polydor, the former record company of The Cure. He did a lot of promotion for Seventeen Seconds in the Netherlands.

The book is a collection of stories about well-known international artists from the 60s, 70s and 80s, who used the Netherlands as testing ground for their international careers. The chapter about The Cure is 7 pages, including photos. Tom tells some interesting personal anecdotes. For instance, about his idea to release a second single off Seventeen Seconds (Play For Today) in the Netherlands. This appeared to be not entirely in line with the band’s views. We all know it didn’t happen, but I’m curious what song would have been on the flip side…

Other artists featured in the book include David Bowie, Blondie and Kate Bush.

40 Years of Seventeen Seconds

2020 marks the 40th anniversary of the second Cure LP Seventeen Seconds. A pivotal release for the band. With this album, they started to define their own unique sound and style. It is remarkable how fast the band produced the album. The recording only took about one week. The same goes for the mixing by Robert Smith and producer Mike Hedges.

If I’m right, Seventeen Seconds was the first Cure LP that was also being pressed in the Netherlands especially for the Dutch market. The manufacturing took place at the Polygram Record Service (PRS) plant in Baarn, not very far from Amsterdam. The outer sleeve was almost the same as the UK pressing. But the labels on the record itself were standard red Polydor labels, unlike the printed UK labels, which were in the same style as the sleeve artwork. This was probably to reduce costs.

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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).

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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Muziek Expres August 1980

19800801Muziek 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.

THE CURE:
‘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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Hal 4 Utopia Rotterdam 1980

Rotterdam WatertorenOn 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.

Paradiso Amsterdam 1980

ParadisovenueLittle 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…

Hitkrant August 1980

Hitkrant1980v2The ‘Hitkrant’ is a Dutch pop music magazine, which already exists as of 1977. It is targeted at teenagers between 12 and 16 years old.
In August 1980, Hitkrant published a small article about The Cure. As far as I know, it is the first publication about the band in this magazine. Since then, several articles followed, not all of them being very serious.
The reliability of the contents of the August 1980 article can be questioned as well. Below is the literal English translation of the Dutch text.
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