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The Cure in the Concert Hall, Vivid LIVE 2011. Image: Prudence Upton

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Unreleased photography from The Cure's 2011 show at Vivid LIVE

Sydney Opera House

The following is an excerpt from journalist Ian Gittins' book, The Cure: A Perfect Dream.

Lifetime achievement awards, back catalogue reissues...heritage acts traffic in nostalgia, and in 2011 the Cure took this process one stage further when they revisited the landmarks from the start of their career.

It hadn’t escaped [Lol] Tolhurst’s attention that that year marked the 30th anniversary of Faith. He wrote to [Robert] Smith suggesting that the band celebrate it. Smith had a more extravagant notion: The group would play their first three albums live in their entirety.

They selected Sydney Opera House, as part of the Australian city’s annual Vivid LIVE festival, as the venue for these so-called Reflections shows. [Roger] O’Donnell rejoined the Cure in time for the shows, any negative feelings about his firing apparently dispersed.

At the Opera House, on May 31 and June 1, Smith, [Simon] Gallup, and [Jason] Cooper played Three Imaginary Boys. O’Donnell joined them for Seventeen Seconds. Tolhurst then made up the full complement for Faith. The former drummer waited backstage to play with the Cure for the first time in 23 years. The monumental moment overcame him.

“The tears wouldn’t stop,” he writes of the moment in Cured. “It was all too much for me. As my salty tears streamed down my cheeks, I found that I could not stanch the flood of emotions that filled me.”

Tolhurst’s nerves dissipated as soon as he took to the stage and struck a bell with his percussion mallet to begin Faith. (“Ye Gods! I felt like Thor with his hammer!” he reflected in his memoir.)

Robert Smith in the Concert Hall, Vivid LIVE 2011. Image: Prudence Upton

“An immaculately glacial, majestic album marrying raw, intense emotion with some of the biggest hits of their career, Disintegration links the spectral sorrow of Unknown Pleasures with the menacing catharsis of Nevermind.”

Ben Marshall, Head of Contemporary Music and Vivid LIVE Curator

Robert Smith in the Concert Hall, Vivid LIVE 2011. Image: Prudence Upton
Jason Cooper (drums) with The Cure, Vivid LIVE 2011. Image: Daniel Boud

“Wherever and whenever 'Boys Don’t Cry' or another such Cure song pops up, on the radio, or in a shop, or six tracks into the mixtape that someone made for you decades ago now. In the work of countless musicians who have borrowed a little of The Cure’s magic and melancholy for themselves.”

From The Cure's permanent twilight, by Anwen Crawford for The Monthly

Robert Smith in the Concert Hall, Vivid LIVE 2011. Image: Prudence Upton
Robert Smith in the Concert Hall, Vivid LIVE 2011. Image: Prudence Upton

“They thought that we were going to keep things light and bouncy with the occasional bit of gloom, but we did the opposite.”

Robert Smith on Disintegration

Robert Smith in the Concert Hall, Vivid LIVE 2011. Image: Prudence Upton
Simon Gallup (bass) with The Cure, Vivid LIVE 2011. Image: Daniel Boud


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