Setlist History: The Cure in Paris 1992

The early 1990s were a great time for alternative music, college radio, and record sales. Of the bands who were able to segue from a respectable underground appeal in the '80s into massive success later was The Cure, who did so without completely feeding the pop beast.

Wish, The Cure's first album to debut at #2 on the US charts, was released on Robert Smith's birthday in 1992.

The album birthed three singles "High," "A Letter to Elise," and "Friday I'm In Love" that helped catapult the album to more success the band had had with their previous eight studio albums.

So they recorded a live album that September in Michigan and titled it Show. And then they made another one over three October nights in the city of lights called Paris, naturally.

Show contained far more poppy hits ("Pictures of You," "Lullabye" "Just Like Heaven," "Fascination Street," "Let's Go To Bed" etc), which is fine if you're into that sort of thing, which the Cure are great at.

But what the emo kids and black lipstick crowd also love is the darkness Smith can elude with a stroke of a windchime or the tap of a tambourine. And that, mes amies, is Paris.

The Cure have played in Paris 42 times. The most recent was in 2022.

Today Rhino Records is celebrating the 30th anniversary of the release of Paris with a new vinyl printing of the hauntingly eerie double album culled from those October evenings at the 7,000 seat Le Zénith.

As is typical, the remastered collection of songs include two previously unreleased gems, "Shake Dog Shake" from The Top kicks off disc one and Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me's "Hot Hot Hot!!!" is the final cut of the 14-track double LP.

The Cure doing a livelier version of "Shake Dog Shake" in 2019 (compared to on Paris) during their Rock Hall induction concert.

While it might not seem like a huge deal, "Shake Dog Shake," which was only performed once during the trio of Parisian gigs, is such an excellent opener for this tour and album. Despite the playfully giddy "Friday, I'm in Love," Wish is not light and frothy and neither is Paris.

This is the live album you put on during a rainstorm or a long drive on an empty road where you pull over and weep for a while and crank "At Night."

There are no liner notes in this 30th Anniversary Edition but on one of the album sleeves are written instructions to "play this music loud." When you do, the layers of Perry Bamonte's keyboards soar above Simon Gallup's bass while Smith sounds like he's summoning ghosts across a field.

The brightest spark of sunshine on a delightfully dark double album, "Lovesong."

Or is he calling for his cats to come home?

It's a gloomy album but not dire. There's yearning but not despair. One of the least commercial songs, "In Your House" from the band's sophomore LP Seventeen Seconds, fits snugly in this collection due thanks to its depth and complexity. It's a deep cut the French are heard clapping along to for some reason.

"I drown at night in your house / Pretending to swim," Smith sings like from a hallucination. The Cure played it just once in France, then a few more times on that '92 tour, 9 times in 2011, and then never again. Enjoy the history.

The song that epitomizes the collection the best just might be "Catch." On Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me, the playful love song is sweet, casual, and flirty.

In Paris, it feels morose, forced, almost sarcastic in the presence of the other tunes in the set. It's like colorful galoshes on an ugly stormy day.

That paradox is in the DNA of The Cure, a band constantly feeding us equal doses of uppers and downers. Here, with a bonus encore souvenir pour vous.

The new remastered version of Paris is available starting today where you buy your vinyl, or on The Cure's website.

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Last updated: 21 May 2024, 23:22 Etc/UTC