The Cure had become a headlining act when they performed at Rock am Ring back in 1986. The band had begun to gain commercial as well as a critical success, yet they were still always keen to pay homage to the past.
Smith and the band have never been the type of group to wallow in success and the band always keep true to their essential fandom. It’s part of what has endeared them so irrevocably to their fans’ hearts.
Another reason for their heaving fandom of cult followers is The Cure’s inability to sit still. Though the group may not be as prolific today, we still await those three promised albums, during their fiery beginnings Smith and co would never rest on their laurels and always pursued artistic evolution.
It was an essential component of the band’s rise from post-punk upstarts to headlining rock stars. To do so, they would have to go through several incarnations, both ethos and line-up changes, and move through their gothic rock legacy to reach the top of the charts.
Evolution is all well and good but you need to be seen and heard in the first place. If there was one song to be attributed to people paying attention to The Cure it was ‘A Forest’. Released in 1980 and featuring on the band’s sophomore album Seventeen Seconds it saw the band emerge from the shadows of punk with a new outlook and a new expression.
The group have kept it in their live set ever since. Though the song may now lack a little of the intensity which made it such an essential song to the band’s growth, it is still an accurate reflection of the band. When it was released the post-punk tones and synth use was somewhat groundbreaking, forging a new path for rock acts afraid of electronic music but it has since changed with the times. Nowadays it acts as a head thumping nostalgia trip but in 1986 it was given a romantic updo, complete with a gallon of hairspray.
The band were at the Rock am Ring festival in Nurburgring, Germany back in 1986 with a new verve. The new line-up of Smith, Tolhurst, Gallup, Thompson and Williams had released The Head on the Door to critical and commercial success and they were clearly in joyous spirits.
With new singles ‘Close To Me’ and ‘In Between Days’ putting The Cure in the charts both sides of the pond there could have been a chance that ‘A Forest’ was bumped out fo the set in favour of newer sounds. Instead, The Cure just adapted the track to their new expression. Moving towards a heavy electro feel, the synth is amped up while Smith’s guitar gets crunchier—it makes for a perfect performance.
It’s atypical of The Cure. A band who have been in the music business for forty years cannot survive without adapting. Judging by Smith and Co’s continued dedication to that evolution, we’ll expect to see them singing ‘A Forest’ forty years from now.
Watch The Cure’s mutating performance of ‘A Forest’ from their appearance at Rock am Ring in 1986.