The Cure

Concert: The Cure Live

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Though it is best experienced across the later video/DVD release, the Cure's first ever live album, from U.K. concerts during the 1984 The Top tour, catches the band in exhilaratingly uncompromising mood. The band's first full album since their post-Pornography breakup, The Top found Robert Smith still striving to shake off the mantel that had once cloaked the Cure in such blackness -- "Shake Dog Shake" and "Give Me It," both from the new album, emerge as highlights here, no matter how desperately you want to hear the older songs that complete the collection. Compared to all that the Cure would become, Concert is often regarded as a dour album. Audiences, too, needed to be reconditioned, and the playful symphonics that would shortly become the band's stock-in-trade simply wouldn't have worked at this point. What you get instead, then, is a rough, punk-edged sound, one that reaches absurd proportions on the closing "Killing an Arab," but which jars "Primary," "The Walk," and "A Forest" as well. It's not a wholly disruptive sensation once you become accustomed to it, but anyone whose vision of the Cure was forged from their studio output or, indeed, the various subsequent live albums should approach Concert with care. The initial U.K. cassette run, incidentally, added a full album's worth of bonus tracks in the form of the archive-scraping Curiosity. Of invaluable aid and interest to collectors, it is an even rougher portrait of the group than the main attraction, but includes definitive airings of "At Night" and "Funeral Party," plus the otherwise unavailable "Forever."

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