Yes, Disintegration is the best album ever, and Faith and Pornography delve deeper into the angst they’ve become synonymous with, but more often than not, my mind turns to 1992’s Wish when I think of The Cure. Arguably the last truly great Cure album, Wish has the added benefit of having been released when I was in high school, and I highly doubt I’m the only Cure fan whose love of the band began in large part due to the emotional tumult of the high school years.
Over time, though, I’ve come to appreciate the album a bit more objectively (I hope). Wish really is a pretty well-balanced album, featuring some fine pop songs (“High,” “Friday, I’m In Love”), some morose ballads (“Apart,” “A Letter to Elise”), and a couple of turbulent epics (“Open,” “From the Edge of the Deep Green Sea”). Robert Smith was listening to shoegaze bands like My Bloody Valentine at the time, and their influence shows in the dense layers of guitars and swirling psychedelic textures that fill the album.
But still, there’s an awful lot of nostalgia wrapped up in its twelve songs. I first heard Wish thanks to a cassette copy that my friend Leah gave me for my sixteenth birthday, and it was a constant companion in my high school days. And if I nearly wore out that cassette, it’s probably a good thing that I didn’t own a copy of the Show concert film at the time; I suspect I would’ve watched it nearly every day and ruined the VCR in the process.
Recorded over two nights on The Cure’s Wish tour, Show made me realize that I regret missing that tour even more than U2’s “Zoo TV” tour. (Prior to discovering The Cure, U2 was my main musical obsession in high school.) Robert Smith, Simon Gallup, Porl Thompson, Perry Bamonte, and Boris Williams are, and forever will be, “my” Cure — the line-up that always comes to mind whenever the band’s name comes up in conversation. Show reveals them at the height of their powers as they tear through Wish material as well as classics like “Pictures of You,” “Fascinaation Street,” “Inbetween Days,” and “A Forest.”
I mean, what do you even do with this perfect rendition of “To Wish Impossible Things”?
Or this lively, souped up, and delightfully goofy version of “Let’s Go To Bed”?
Or this epic rendition of “A Forest,” perhaps the prototypical Cure song? (And yes, that’s a Joy Division riff there at the end.)
The Cure’s post-Wish albums haven’t aged nearly as well (though I’ve recently come to reassess Wild Mood Swings a bit), but in the early ’90s, The Cure were operating on whole other level than any other “alternative” band out there. Even without the inevitable nostalgia, Show captures a brilliant performance by a band at their zenith.