I don’t usually get up before 5am, but when I do, it’s to watch The Cure perform Disintegration live at the Sydney Opera House. To celebrate the 30th anniversary of their best and finest album, The Cure performed a series of five shows, and streamed the fifth and final show earlier this morning.
I don’t know how long the above video will remain available, but not only do Robert Smith et al. perform Disintegration in its entirety, they also perform songs recorded during the Disintegration sessions, including “2 Late,” “Fear of Ghosts,” “Delirious Night,” and “Pirate Ships.” (Prior to the Sydney performances, several of these songs had never been played live.) As an added bonus, they also perform “Burn” from The Crow soundtrack.
So much has been said about Disintegration already. The album is a classic, plain and simple, and you don’t need to be a goth to recognize that fact. Smith was inspired to write Disintegration because he felt the need to write something grandiose and timeless as he entered his 30s, and suffice to say, he did just that.
While “Pictures of You,” “Lovesong,” “Lullaby,” and “Fascination Street” get most of the attention (and understandably so), I’ve always been most drawn to “Last Dance” and “Disintegration.” The former is an achingly bittersweet and atmospheric ballad set in the depths of dreary winter about a faded romance. The latter is a delirious, LSD-fueled epic dripping with bitterness and cynicism that Smith wrote as a result of his angst over turning 30. Both songs — and by extension, Disintegration as a whole — exist in a parallel, twilit dream-world that only The Cure have ever been able to conjure up.
When I’ve been asked why The Cure is one of my favorite bands, my usual answer is something along the lines of “Because nobody else sounds like them.” And I stand by that, though it goes deeper than that. It’s true that The Cure have influenced countless followers over the last four(!) decades, and nobody has come close to creating the same gloriously, epically, mercurially gloomy sounds that Robert Smith and his numerous collaborators have, and most especially on Disintegration.
But more personally, listening to Disintegration takes me back, even now, to high school, and that insular, parallel world of my own that I created while spending countless hours alone in my bedroom, listening to Disintegration on repeat while writing poetry and reading comics and sci-fi novels. I couldn’t have realized it at the time, but those were deeply formative times that shaped who I am today — and The Cure, and Disintegration in particular, were instrumental in that process. And I suspect that, even when I listen to the album when I’m 80, it’ll have the same effect. And why? Because it’s timeless, or rather, because it exists outside of time in the way that only music can.