The Cure were arresting enough as a band to land its first album Three Imaginary Boys on the U.K. charts in 1979. A year later, with their sophomore effort Seventeen Seconds ready to be released in April, the band arranged for a brief tour of the eastern seaboard of the United States, the first time they had “jumped the pond” after having played entirely British gigs up to that point, with the exception of a handful of dates in the Netherlands, Belgium, and France.
The Cure’s first-ever show on the North American continent was not in New York City. It was in scenic Cherry Hill, New Jersey, at the Emerald City Lounge, on April 10 or 12, 1980. Actually, a fanzine review of that Cherry Hill by Frank Chmielewski show survives, and it’s interesting to note how very unusual the Cure seemed to Chmielewski:
So original, this Cure, it is really hard to expalin (sic) it. It is not a dance band, yet it is very rhythmic, and has a textured sound. ... The Cure’s music is brain-stroking, maybe.
Remarkably, according to Chmielewski one of the openers for the Cure at that show was the Dickies.
Anyway, the Cure headed to D.C. for a show at the Bayou and then traveled to NYC for a three-show stint at Hurrah on West 62nd Street on April 15, 16, and 17. Some of you might recall that Hurrah was the club where in December 1978 Sid Vicious got into a fight with Todd Smith (the brother of Patti Smith) during a Skafish gig, which incident led to the incarceration of Sid Vicious in Rikers Island. It was also where Divine starred in the play The Neon Woman. These three Cure gigs took place towards the end of Hurrah’s existence, as it was defunct by 1981.
It’s not entirely clear which show of the three this footage comes from. The Cure was taped by Charles Libin and Paul Cameron, who took video footage of many bands in New York during that era. For any band playing multiple gigs in New York, their whole M.O. was to watch the first one(s) as prep for the final show, where they would do the actual taping. So it’s likely this show took place on April 17, 1980.
We presented a portion of this footage early last year, but only two songs were available then. Fortunately for us “new shit has come to light,” as a certain fictitious stoner once said. In this clip we have an actual majority of one of the shows, with eleven songs represented from a set that probably would have had somewhere shy of twenty.
Of the Hurrah dates, Robert Smith said that “we’d obtained cult status ... but we only played New York, Philly, Washington and Boston. We played three nights ... at Hurrah in New York and it was packed.” Simon Gallup noted one of the key differences of playing in the United States, that “instead of having cans of beer backstage, we’d have shots of Southern Comfort!”
This is not a “complete” show, as already mentioned, and indeed it’s not even continuous, there are breaks between the songs. Libin and Cameron knew what they were doing for sure, which makes this footage very enjoyable to apprehend.
Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Intimate footage of the Cure rehearsing for the Prayer Tour, 1989