Robert Smith of the Cure
Melissa Auf Der Maur
The Cooper Temple Clause
Review and Photos by Tony BonyataAs lethargic as Nosferatu arising just after dusk, fans of the first Curiosa (a music festival spearheaded by The Cure's Robert Smith) didn't really come to life until things started getting black. Even though the cold, damp weather throughout this two-stage festival was the perfect gloomy setting for all things Goth, it wasn't the dark brooding music from the many newer acts (handpicked for the show by Smith) that packed the house as much as The Cure themselves.
The Cure have remained somewhat of an anomaly in the music world. With countless cast changes within the band, yet few drastic alterations to their formula, they have, nonetheless, continued to thrive with the help of an ever-growing devout fan-base.
While many of the younger acts chosen for this tour didn't exactly scream Goth, they all certainly possessed a dark enough mystic to comfortably brood next to The Cure's own music.
Some of the highlights from these supporting acts included The Cooper Temple Clause, a UK based band that exuded an air of ambient coolness amidst slashing guitars, techno beats and ethereal vocals. Running through numbers from their latest full-length effort Kick Up the Fire, and Let the Flames Break Loose the scruffy sextet did just that, as they casually tossed a match to the gas-soaked numbers "Promises, Promises" and "New Toys," before tearing into the meaty "Music Box," where Didz Hammond laid down a muscular guitar-line prior to breaking into an entertaining violin bow solo ala Jimmy Page. Auf Der Maur followed suit with a ballsy performance of Absinthe-soaked metal numbers with the occasional pop hook thrown in just to keep things in check. Led by former Smashing Pumpkins and Hole bassist Melissa Auf Der Maur, the lanky crimson-haired vixen seduced the slowly growing B-stage crowd with sexy, dark rock numbers from her strong self-titled solo debut.
Over at the mainstage The Rapture kept things moving with an energetic set of danceable numbers driven by, of all things, a cowbell, before New York hipsters Interpol took the stage for a riveting performance of tragic, yet highly addictive numbers from their debut Turn On the Bright Lights. While vocalist / guitarist Paul Banks stoically delivered his lines as if Joy Division's Ian Curtis had never strung himself up whilst listening to Iggy Pop's The Idiot, Daniel Kessler chiseled out sharp, angular guitar lines, while bassist Carlos D's Teutonic stormtrooper look exuded a chilling air of Kraftwerkian theater into the set. As darkness started to move in, so did the audience - as they swarmed to the A-stage to catch The Cure's headling set.
The Cure are well-known for their dark, introspective numbers - which have left them with the 'father's of Goth rock' moniker - but their performance was anything but a depressing set for self-loathing shoegazers. Despite looking like Liz Taylor at 7 a.m. after a night of too many Cosmopolitans and three plates too many from the Shoney's buffet, the lipstick-smeared, condor's nest coiffed Smith, nonetheless, never sounded better. From the dramatic angst-ridden build of the opening number "Lost" from their latest self-titled album to the decidedly more upbeat pop hits "Why Can't I Be You," "Boy's Don't Cry" and "The Lovecats," Smith along with longtime bassist Simon Gallup, keyboardist Roger O' Donnell, drummer Jason Cooper and guitarist Perry Bamonte held their audience in the palm of their hands.
Although the band ran through a few numbers from their latest album, such as the uplifting "Before Three" and "The End of the World," along with the darker "Anniversary" and the pounding "The Promise," it was their big hits from the past that shed light on the band's staying power. From the cute, bouncy pop of "Close To Me" to intoxicating versions of "Fascination Street" and "Disintegration" to their infectious signature song "Inbetween Days," Smith and company proved as a live act to be as potent as ever.
In a year when concerts are doing poorly and festivals - such as the once influential Lollapalooza - have gone belly up, its as refreshing as it is surprising to see a festival with a dark edge such as this succeed. Long live Curiosa!
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