The Cure have been around for a long time, so it’s only natural for them to have several live albums. With so many to choose from, it’s difficult to know where to begin. Their first live release seems like a good place to start, but what you’ll find is an underwhelming performance from the band. The setlist is pretty good and it even features live versions of songs they band rarely does, but it is far from their best live release.
The reason most Cure fans would be interested in this LP is it features songs they rarely do live, the main one being “Charlotte Sometimes.” For some reason I never really liked the song, but this version managed to win me over a little bit. Another treat is “Hanging Garden” from Pornography. It’s not the most exciting take on the single, but it is cool to hear in a different setting. Things get livelier on “Primary” where Smith sings a little melody after the line “The very first time I saw your face/I thought of a song and quickly changed the tune.” These aren’t the best renditions of these songs, but they’re among the best on the record.
The rest of the album is kind of dull. “Shake Dog Shake,” “Give Me It,” and “One Hundred Years” aren’t very notable, aside from an extended guitar solo every now and then. On songs like “The Walk” and “10:15 Saturday Night” Smith sounds bored, like he’s sick of touring (which may have been the case). It kind of sounds like he’s going through the motions, rather than trying to enjoy himself. The liveliest the band gets is on “Killing an Arab” and it’s not the best live version around. The album even ends abruptly after the last note is played, like they were ready to get off stage. It’s as if they didn’t care about the release and put as little effort in it as possible.
What makes other Cure live efforts so much fun is the way Smith’s personality manages to come through. There are times where he’ll add different inflections to his voice or just say something really silly to the crowd. Sometimes he gets across feelings of anger, sadness, and happiness just with his singing. Somehow he remains charming without having to see him. None of that is present on this release. Everything sounds dull, like they’re being forced to do it. On songs like “A Forest” you can almost see him rolling his eyes while he’s singing. He just sounds so uninterested in what he’s doing making for a lackluster release.
Overall, the album gets 6/10. Since this live LP wasn’t released in the US, it’s good for Cure collectors. The only reason it’s worth listening to is to hear some of their older songs in a live setting. Otherwise, the band sounds bored and dull on other tracks. It’s a shame they don’t sound better because the setlist is actually really good. To be fair this is their first live album. It’s very possible they were trying to improve their live performance. This also could’ve been taken from a bad show. When it comes to Cure live albums check out their later releases. They give a better representation of the band live.