The Cure released "Wish" in 1992, a return to the dark Pop stylings
that they had been exploring with 1987's "Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me". It
was a solid album with a range of moods and sounds running from elation to misery and everything in between, but
that seemed to be The Cure's style at the time and I was okay with that.
The first single release High remains a personal favorite, and of course
From The Edge of the Deep Green Sea stands as one of the band's
greatest and most epic tracks. There are a lot of other classics on that album, tracks that would further solidify and establish the band as credible and successful artists, and while it's not my favorite album by them there's no question that it was an important turning point for The Cure, a significant release that set the stage for future success.
I should also add that From the Edge of the Deep Green Sea holds a particular place in my heart as I had just gotten my first guitar shortly before the release of the album and I had set a goal of learning how to play the solo but I just couldn't figure it out by ear. I ended up buying a tab book for the album in hopes that it would map out the solo but no such luck, all it said was "Guitar plays wildly", and so leading up to the show I was no closer to learning how to play the solo than I had been...
Regardless of my failed guitar dreams, I still enjoyed the album and when The Cure announced a North American tour I ended up getting tickets for multiple nights starting with the show at Nassau Coliseum in New York. The Cure regularly changed up their setlists each date, and I figured that going to a few shows would give me the opportunity to see a few different sets, and what's better than seeing your favorite band play live? Seeing them play live more than once! It was the right decision to make, because the 1992 Wish Tour was a pretty good series of concerts, mostly focused on singles and the more Pop-flavored tracks, but with enough deep dives and gloomy Goth dirges to keep me happy as a fan.
The New York show started with the band coming out to a recording of Tape, with Robert Smith and Simon Gallup taking centre stage and leaning into each other so their foreheads touched as they began to play Open off the new album. They'd repeat the same forehead thing each night I saw them and while my description may not be doing it justice I thought that it was pretty cool, a suggestion of closeness and friendship between them that I really enjoyed seeing. I may be reading too much into it, but it sort of set the mood for the shows as being a shared experience with friends, not just between the two of them but also between the band and the audience.
Open has since become a regular entry in The Cure's sets, often alternating with Plainsong as the first song of the night. And while that frequency and familiarity has made it a fan favorite over the years, as I write this I'm reminded that during this show and the tour that followed, Open and all of the other songs played from "Wish" were just new tracks from the latest album which meant that they weren't necessarily received as well as other more familiar older material. And that's kind of interesting to think about given how in the years to come those same songs would become fan favorites in the band's back catalog, songs that make regular and frequent appearances in their current setlists. Food for thought, and something to support the idea that you often don't recognize history while it's happening...
High followed next, a nod to the new single at the time and something to suggest that the show wasn't going to be all doom 'n' gloom, that The Cure were well aware that at least half of their audience were there to hear some upbeat singles. And that's okay, because over the years The Cure have made some great singles, and many of them were played that night. Lullaby, The Walk, Let's Go to Bed, In Between Days, they were all greeted with huge cheers and applause, and I'd be lying if I said that I didn't love hearing them myself. I mean, who doesn't love a good Cure single?
Towards the end of the main set they played From the Edge of The Deep Green Sea, and it was majestic and beautiful that
night, just as awesome as I had hoped it would be. That show was the first time that I had seen the song live, and
though by then I had already listened to it countless times on album, it was still fresh and new and amazing to hear it played in person. When Robert Smith sang "Put your hands in the sky..." we all did and in that moment all of the audience were part of something wonderful. As it continued, the song
washed over the audience like a wave, all of it's parts growing and building as it moved
forward to that guitar driven climax, spiraling, ascending, a blissful sound all around us.
I've seen this song
performed a bunch of times since and it always amazes and inspires me,
but this first time? It was the best I've ever seen it played, sublimely beautiful and magical.
The set ended with Cut and End, a pair of tracks that I really enjoy so I was pretty happy to hear them live. Cut was especially ferocious, slightly sped up, a little more manic than on the album, a little more bitter, a little more awesome in all of it's wah wah guitar excellence. As I write this it occurs to me that I don't think I've seen The Cure play Cut any times since that tour, which is too bad because it's a pretty solid track. Who knows? Next year is the thirtieth anniversary of "Wish", maybe they'll do a tour to celebrate and will dust off that one and others to mark the occasion...
The encores included a couple of songs from "Pornography" along with Why Can't I Be You which was admittedly a bit of a jarring mix, but it worked in the context of the kind of roller coaster ride that The Cure's shows tend to be, pushing and pulling the audience through a range of emotions and feelings. The night ended with an extended version of A Forest, stretching out the instrumental bits, building on the guitar solo that comes at the end and throwing in a little bit of She's Lost Control for good measure until the band left the stage to the sound of echoes and feedback and the cheers of the audience. It was a pretty great way to end the night...
show was over I got a taxi to take me back to my hotel, but before they
did that the driver rode around the venue picking up extra fares, all of us
squishing into the back and slowly unloading at various points over the
next hour. Is that a thing in other cities? I mean, I've ridden taxis in
Toronto all my life, is that something that happens in other places? It
was kind of strange and sort of kind of sketchy now that I think about
it. I hope that's not a thing...
Regardless of taxi weirdness it was still a great night, a great show by one of my favorite bands, and knowing what to expect I was pretty excited for the next two shows in Philadelphia. The set lists for those nights were very similar to the New York show so I got to relive a lot of the earlier night's highlights, but there were also a few differences with the song order shuffled a bit and different encores. On the second night in Philadelphia they played Wendy Time, an especially rare track to see, so that was especially cool.
There's no doubt in my mind that the Wish Tour was a good era for
the The Cure, a period where they were able to evenly balance both Pop
and darker sensibilities in a way that was embraced by fans all around the world. Absolutely The Cure had already found a large
audience before then, but on that tour in 1992 it all came together in a
perfect synergy of appeal and artistry that really defined the band
moving forward, changing their media perception from quirky Goth
alterna-stars to viable and respected artists who are largely able to transcend genre. It was a solid tour, and
I'm glad that I got to see a few different nights and that I had the chance to
see that change happen first hand...