Classic Bands

A digital scrapbook of The Cure’s first trip to America | Listen to their entire first US concert and more!

Photo by Ebet Roberts

In mid April of 1980,  The Cure embarked on a 6 date North East US tour—this was our “Cult Heroes” first trip ever to the states—supporting their second album Seventeen Seconds and the new single A Forest.  Robert, Lol, Simon, and Matthieu begun their tour in Cherry Hill New Jersey (this is right outside Philadelphia, PA), and remarkably, audio from the entire tour had been captured thanks to journalist Van Gosse who was covering the show for Melody Maker.

Three of the gigs were in NYC at the Hurrah’s nightclub—where Chris Stein and Debbie Harry turned up to meet them, with pictures of the reluctant encounter captured by photographer Ebet Roberts (whose shots in this article you can see at The Morrison Hotel Gallery in NYC), and video footage by Charles Libin & Paul Cameron.

Photo by Ebet Roberts

Photo by Ebet Roberts

Not much information is available on the shows in Washington DC, and Philadelphia proper—the Boston gig however, that occurred on Robert Smith’s Birthday is well documented, and youo can watch artistically shot video footage by Jan Cocker and Benjamin Bergery, who also filmed Mission of Burma, who shared the bill with The Cure for that April 21st gig, whose aftermath would lead to Robert’s sore thumb literally sticking out on The Top of the Pops upon the boys return to the UK.

Quoted from Ten Imaginary Years: 

Robert: “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: “It was done on a shoestring budget but it was lots of fun. Instead of having cans of beer backstage, we’d have shots of Southern Comfort!”

Robert: “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.”

On his return, Robert told Record Mirror how America meant “being bombarded by people who all ask the same questions and all want to shake your hand . . . you just find yourself getting sucked into the whole rock ‘n’ roll trip which we’re trying so hard to get away from” while Sounds’ Phil Sutcliffe, who’d accompanied the band to New York. told, in an article “Somebody Get Me A Doctor,” how Robert had done his utmost to avoid having his picture taken with Debbie Harry.

See setlists, video, and pictures from each date below:

April 10th, 1980 Cherry Hill – Emerald City (USA)
Seventeen Seconds, Play For Today, Three Imaginary Boys, Fire In Cairo, Grinding Halt, In Your House, Subway Song, M, 10.15 Saturday Night, Accuracy, At Night, Boys Don’t Cry, Jumping Someone Else’s Train, Another Journey By Train, A Forest,
E1: Secrets, Killing An Arab

Journalist Van Gosse who recorded the audio from the concent, and was covering the show on behalf of Melody Maker writes

“Way back, when I started writing about music (thanks to Davitt Sigerson), I interviewed lots of people and occasionally taped shows, so I could listen to them again. So….in April 1980, Melody Maker gave me a big assignment to trail The Cure on their first US tour, and write about them. Their publicist, Rhonda, took me to their US debut, at Emerald City in Cherry Hill, NJ, and I taped the attached. Pretty great stuff! They were releasing ‘A Forest,’ but still played all the original stuff, including ‘Killing an Arab’ as the encore. The MM went on strike and my piece never ran, but it was a good time. I remember what a hard case was Robert Smith, very determined, nothing sentimental or artsy about him. Below are my two pieces that did run, in the Voice and a short live review in the MM. And the show itself, thanks to SFJ for compressing and cleaning up.”

Below, you can stream the two sides of the tape and listen to the entire concert.

April 14th, 1980 Washington – The Bayou (USA/DC)
setlist unknown

1980-04-14_washington

April 15th, 16th, and 17th – New York – Hurrah 

April 15th Setlist
Seventeen Seconds, Play For Today, Three Imaginary Boys, Fire In Cairo, Grinding Halt, In Your House, Subway Song, M, 10.15 Saturday Night, Accuracy, At Night, Boys Don’t Cry, Jumping Someone Else’s Train, Another Journey By Train, A Forest,
E1: Secrets, Killing An Arab,
E2: Plastic Passion, Seventeen Seconds

Concert Footage filmed over the three nights:

Debbie Harry and Chris

19.04.1980 Philadelphia – Hot Club 
setlist unknown

1980-04-19_philadelphia

20.04.1980 Boston – The Underground 
Seventeen Seconds, Play For Today, Three Imaginary Boys, Fire In Cairo, Grinding Halt, In Your House, Subway Song, M, 10.15 Saturday Night, Accuracy, At Night, Boys Don’t Cry, Jumping Someone Else’s Train, Another Journey By Train, A Forest,
E1: Plastic Passion, Killing An Arab,
E2: Secrets, Seventeen Seconds

Quoted from Ten Imaginary Years:

thecureallstonundergroundbostonma1980laksjdf

The Cure hanging out at the wood-paneled Boston, where only Robert is looking into the Camera, Massachusetts club ‘The Underground,’ April 20th, 1980.

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Grinding Halt’ live on April 20th, 1980 at ‘The Underground’ in Allston, Massachusetts.

‘Subway Song’ and ‘Accuracy.’ 

‘Secrets.’

Parts of this show were shot by local Boston art students including Jan Cocker, you can watch more of his videos shot along Benjamin Bergery here. Whether or not Jan Cocker is the one driving the Beetle that led ultimately to the Top of the Pops thumb injury has not been confirmed.

Quoted from Ten Imaginary Years:

Robert: “My 21st birthday happened in Boston and, after the gig, Bill and the four of us got taken to some art media event by this guy who was making a video of us. We had some drugs. I remember a TV and a set of homemade videos and we got bored and insisted this bloke drove us back to our hotel so he took us in his Beetle – the five of us and his girlfriend!

It was a little cramped so I got out and sat on the bonnet—it was about five in the morning so we thought we’d take the risk. Bill then decided to drive and went the wrong way round a roundabout without thinking. When he realised it, of course, he just kept on going round, laughing insanely and then he got hysterical, got a flat, slewed across the road and I fell off the bonnet.

I tried to change the wheel – I don’t know why I was doing it – but I couldn’t understand why the hub-cap wouldn’t go back on so I started kicking it, and it was only a few seconds later, when the pain suddenly reached my brain, that I realised the reason the hub cap wouldn’t go back on was because my thumb was trapped underneath it. I’d just reduced it to pulp! After that we drove to New York overnight but ended up in Cape Cod because Bill had taken a wrong turn! We eventually arrived at the airport just in time to catch the plane to get back to London for Top Of The Pops.”

Look for the bandage on Robert’s thumb…
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h/t to Dangerous Minds and Cure-Concerts-de

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