Max Koch Uncorked

Wine-soaked adventures through a twisted life…

Black Celebration: The Cure LIVE at the Bowl

I finally saw The Cure Tuesday night at the Hollywood Bowl! 

I will be honest. It’s kind of been a lifelong dream of mine to see them live. I have all their records – my favorite being Bloodflowers – and have been listening (brooding) to them since high school. I hung out with the drama geeks back then, sure…but I also rolled with a coupla goth kids who turned me onto them. Namely, Marco and Brenda. It was Marco who introduced me to clove cigarettes and TUK Creepers, which I continue to wear to this day. And Brenda, who bore an uncanny resemblance to Siouxsie Sioux, shamelessly shared my love and appreciation of darkness, death, and cemeteries. We took a modern dance class together and once or twice went to pout about Oakwood Memorial Park Cemetery in Chatsworth, after dark. The Cure, Bauhaus, Depeche Mode, The Smiths, Joy Division, Black Flag, Violent Femmes, Soft Cell, and Echo & The Bunnymen always provided the score, albeit on our shitty Walkmans.

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Funny thing about the wife, me, and live concerts. We’d all but given up on them. Especially after the Roger Waters Pink Floyd: The Wall show at Memorial Coliseum, where I almost murdered each and every drunk, stoned, and screaming sing-alonger within a 12-foot radius. Oh, I’ve almost gotten in fights at shows, taking on the rude, selfish and inconsiderate like a burdened, battered, balls-out BEAST. A bucking black bull, if you will…the arrows of ill-manneredness pierced in my neck, hell-bent on justice against people who only go to shows to shoot them with their smartphones and steal seats. I mean, this is also why I barely get out to movies in theaters anymore. Unless it’s some “event” film I’m interested in. Which is rare. But I did enjoy Spectre, Creed, and Star Wars: The Force Awakens in public very much.

So we made a rule: LESS concerts. But exceptions were made. The Cure was a whole different deal. They NEVER come to town. And they were playing the Bowl, a venue we are willing to hit at least once a year. Best of all, the show was a very special gift to me from my wife, who splurged for box seats. MUCH better than rubbing shoulders with members of the rabble who are only there to vape, jibber-jabber, and shout “Lovecats!!!” all night long.

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I never know the Bowl’s policy about bringing in your own bottle(s) of wine anymore, so I just sat back all night, nursing 32 oz. Dos Equis beers, which Nichole was kind enough to keep bringing me. WITHOUT ASKING.

The opening act was the Scottish post-punk band, The Twilight Sad, and they were fantastic. The PERFECT mood setters for The Cure. So we just chilled and enjoyed them, watching all the vampires, death rockers, and Hot Topic rejects slowly creep in. Oh, I was having so much fun. In the words of Cure frontman Robert Smith, it was Just Like Heaven. My people!

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Another colorful character who actually joined us in our box was a chick I wound up referring to as “Baked Potato Lady.” She was from Texas and told us this was her NINTH time seeing just this particular tour alone! And then she also ordered up a giant cup of suds and simply sat silently for the entire 3-hour show! Didn’t ONCE get up to pee! How perfect is THAT? No trouble at all. Even when I asked her if she courted a “dark sensibility”, she smiled and replied with a gentle “yes.”

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This was one of the greatest concert experiences of my life. The Cure played perfectly, gave us three hours, including three ENCORES, and I never wanted them to leave the stage. I was transfixed. And Robert Smith is a startling performer. He is SO about playing the songs. I think he’s almost AFRAID of his audience. His rare, between song banter was downright unintelligible. I think at one point he mumbled something about only being “half-way up the hill”, which gloriously got lost in the purply glow of despair. There were also zero close-ups of Smith on the monitors. I think he might be a little self-conscious about his appearance these days? Or not. It didn’t MATTER. He was beautiful to all of us. And his voice was as strong and passionate and iconically Robert Smith-ian as ever. And, WOW, can the dude play guitar.

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Recent pic I found of Smith on the web.

And the visuals! At one point, a gorgeous, colorful scene of a tree, surrounded by vibrant green grass and flowers slowly (bleakly) turned to a deathly, haunted black and white. And then during another song, the walls began to bleed. BLEED! For such a moody, misery-drenched night, I was the happiest I’d been in ages! Even my wife was into it, and she was no fan of the group by any stretch. Think she might be now.

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I’ll admit. I got a little weepy sitting in that box, drinking beer, just enjoying The Cure and the NIGHT. I felt so LUCKY to be there. So grateful for the experience. I seriously hope to see them again someday. In the meantime, check out this acoustic “perfect version” performance of A Forest I found on YouTube the next morning. It gut me good.

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WINE PAIRING: It’s Memorial Day weekend! Raise many glasses to those who fought and died for us! Wine! Beer! Shots! 

(Okay, specifically, I suggest you pair the 2015 Gothic TellTale Rosé from Oregon’s Willamette Valley with a coupla choice Cure songs of my choosing. Namely, The Hanging Garden, Charlotte Sometimes, and Icing Sugar…all the while dressed in black from head to toe…)

Cheers.

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