Photo by Debi Del Grande
The Cure definitely want you to get your money’s worth when they play live. The long-running British pop group is known for long, long sets of music, followed by as many as four encores. And not just one song and done. We’re talking encores that can stretch on for a while as they play songs from the group’s extensive discography. Famously, the group also changes up their setlist from show to show, mixing in the familiar hits with plenty of deep cuts and rare gems.
For as great and varied as their live sets are, there are many songs that Robert Smith and co. either hardly ever play or have long since phased out of their sets. But if you scroll through the band’s listings on Setlist.fm or dig through live bootleg footage/recordings, you’ll find them dropping the occasional surprise in the mix of fan favorites, like “Boys Don’t Cry” and “Why Can’t I Be You?”. With that in mind, we’ve picked out 10 songs from throughout The Cure’s catalog that we hope to hear during their upcoming run of shows here in North America.
This gem was a keystone of The Cure’s sets during the tour for their underrated 1996 album, Wild Mood Swings, but it got tucked away in the ensuing years, popping up most recently in 2013. It would be a worthy setlist entry for their upcoming run of dates as it provides the perfect bridge between the moody, lovelorn spirit of their mid ‘80s heyday with the EDM explorations of recent efforts.
The closing track from The Head on the Door, the album that marked their US commercial breakthrough, this ode to paranoia and fears of aging was also the band’s go-to number to close out their main set when they toured the world in 1985. It’s a deceptively simple song that would allow bassist Simon Gallup and drummer Jason Cooper to settle into its liquid groove and let Robert Smith croon his heart out.
“Do The Hansa”
Few people in the world would consider The Cure to be a playful band, but truth be told they’ve been known to cut loose from time to time. You’ll find few better examples than “Do the Hansa”, a delightfully goofy bit of disco pop that landed on the B-side of the 1986 re-release of “Boys Don’t Cry”. It’s complete nonsense but the kind of nonsense that might force the moody goths in the house to crack a small smile.
If Setlist.fm is to be believed, The Cure have attempted this track from their most recent studio album, 4:13 Dream, only a single time, during a tour stop in Rome. Whatever their reasons for keeping it on the shelf, this could be a fantastic addition to their arsenal with its haunting slide guitar line, folksy mood, and some of Robert Smith’s most poetically romantic yearnings.
When you’ve already got so many songs in your catalog about murder and bloodlust, it must be hard to pick the perfect one to suit the mood of a concert performance. For their forthcoming tour, might I recommend The Cure dust off this nasty, little tune from their 1981 LP, Faith? The music shows a band not willing to shake off their punky beginnings while looking forward to the darker days ahead. Plus, I think Smith would get a nice charge out of singing lines like “Kiss you once and see you writhe” and “So savage with red desperation/ I clench my hands.”
Perhaps this one runs a little too close in spirit to a song like “Hot Hot Hot!!!”, but it is one of those deep cuts that is a crystalline example of Smith’s songwriting genius. He belies the tense agitation of the lyrics with an upbeat bit of white-boy funk that uses a wah-wah pedal to marvelous effect. I might be alone in my appreciation of this song as The Cure have only pulled this song out sporadically in the years since it was recorded for their 1992 album, Wish.
This one could be a tough one to pull off as it relies so heavily on the sound of a mariachi-style horn section and a lot of auxiliary percussion. Not the easiest or most cost-effective stuff to drag across the pond for a tour. Yet, it’s one of The Cure’s sexiest songs, aided in no small part by the hip-shaking rhythms the band cooked up to accompany Smith’s yearnings for another taste of his lover’s “hot honey-colored” self.
If The Cure really wanted to drive their longtime fans into a frenzy, this would be the song to make it happen. The B-side to their still-fantastic 1981 single “Primary”, this intense tune is a showcase for dueling bass lines played by Smith and his longtime cohort Simon Gallup. No lyrics means that this might be best suited to kick off one of their multiple encores before knocking us flat with one of their well-known hits.
“(I Don’t Know What’s Going) On”
Again, if we are to believe the good people who keep track of these things on Setlist.fm, The Cure don’t often play this cut from their eponymous 2004 album in concert. More’s the pity, too, as it’s as direct as anything in the band’s catalog. Smith expresses his confusion at being in love with some lucky lady while the rest of the group swirls and pulses behind him with a proggy drive.
“A Thousand Hours”
Here’s another song that would bring the house down if The Cure were to delight us with it. Tucked away on the fourth side of 1987’s Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me, this piano ballad served as a salve to many a broken heart and tender soul who also wondered aloud, “For how much longer can I cry like this?” Chances are if the band plays this gentle tune when they arrive in the US this year, there won’t be a dry eye in the house.