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Watch The Cure's blistering NYC debut performing 'Boys Don't Cry', 1980


When one thinks of Robert Smith’s The Cure it is easy to forget that they weren’t always the Goth darlings they appear to be. While the iconic image of Smith will always be heavily influenced by eyeliner and hairspray, The Cure were born from the fiery embers of punk.

While pop stardom would eventually beckon for the group in the mid-eighties and onwards, the beginning of the decade was a much darker affair. This footage sees the bridge between these two eras being built as The Cure delivers a blistering performance of ‘Boys Don’t Cry’.

The band arrived in America on April 10th, 1980, and found themselves at the beginning of a spectacular touring career. Although it would be some time before they gained their heightened fame across the pond, The Cure in these US shows got a taste of what was to come. 

They explain in the book Ten Imaginary Years as Robert Smith reveals: “We’d obtained cult status out there but we only played New York, Philly, Washington and Boston. We played three nights—15, 16 and 17th—at Hurrah in New York and it was packed.”

Simon Gallup adds: “It was done on a shoe-string budget but it was lots of fun. Instead of having cans of beer backstage, we’d have shots of Southern Comfort!” A dangerous mix that saw them indulge as much as possible, fearing there may never be another chance.”

Robert Smith confirms: “It was like a holiday. Even at this point, everything we did, we didn’t think we’d be doing again so we used to go to bed at about five in the morning and get up again at eight just to go out and see New York.” It was the start of a beneficial relationship as soon enough, The Cure would be topping the charts on both sides of the pond with their candy-coated melancholy.

First noted by Chain of Flowers, the devoted Cure fansite, the footage below sees the band in their fiery beginning, as they rattle through a setlist built out of post-punk intensity and artistic endeavour.

The audio and film quality of the footage is simply fantastic for the eighties and we’re very happy to bring it to you. Shot by Charles Libin and Paul Cameron, the show us The Cure’s now-legendary performances at The Hurrah nightclub on 15th, 16th, 17th April 1980.

The Cure, complete with Smith, Gallup, Lol Tolhurst and Matthieu Hartley, had four years of refining their sound already complete, and, with the dawn of a new decade ahead, The Cure were now starting to evolve once again. The band’s sophomore record Seventeen Seconds still reverberated with the aftershock of punk but it now added an extra texture of melancholy and flourish.

To punctuate that point, while The Cure shakes the room with their performances of ‘Three Imaginary Boys’, ‘A Forest’ and ‘Killing An Arab’—all post-punk powerhouses—it’s their standalone single ‘Boys Don’t Cry’ which would be foreshadowing for their stratospheric rise.

It would also be included as part of the Boys Don’t Cry compilation, the US release of debut Three Imaginary Boys, and begin to win hearts and minds as the band offered a credible alternative to the sugary pop and outdated punk that swamped the radio. Perhaps that’s why the performance of the song feels so atmospheric, or perhaps Smith and co knew that it would lead their way for their evolution.

Whichever way you look at it, The Cure’s performances at Hurrah’s in NYC remains the stuff of legend, and their performance of ‘Boys Don’t Cry’ was a hint of what was to come. Watch the blistering rendition below.

Three Imaginary Boys – 0:01
Fire In Cairo – 2:55
In Your House – 5:50
M – 9:29
10.15 Saturday Night – 12:33
At Night – 16:05
Boys Don’t Cry – 21:26
Jumping Someone Else’s Train – 24:01
Another Journey By Train – 26:21
A Forest – 29:49
Secrets – 35:58
Killing An Arab – 39:00