In 2019, the TopPop Youtube account posted a high quality version of The Cure miming A Forest at the TROS Top 50 show. It was probably recorded at the beginning of July 1980. As it now appears, this 3’46” version of A Forest, broadcasted on Dutch television in August 1980, was a shorter edit from the full version as recorded and already broadcasted in July 1980. More spectacularly, the TopPop archivers found out that The Cure had mimed another song in July 1980. They opened the TROS Top 50 show with Play For Today!
A possible reason for this recording might be that the Dutch branche of Polydor Records had Play For Today in mind as a second single off the Seventeen Seconds LP. This, however, never happened.
As far as I know, this particular performance of Play For Today has never resurfaced since July 1980. I also can’t remember seeing it on trading lists in the past. So, sit back and take a moment to enjoy this true hidden gem, such as they rarely appear!
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).