July 28, 2021

the disturbing strangeness of Robert Smith

Mythe pop, gothic juggernaut, western icon: everything seems to be said about The Cure, which has just won unanimous support at the Rock en Seine festival on Friday 23 August 2019. However, while walking in the immense spaces of the national domain of Saint-Cloud, the sense of a group that has already spanned four decades is becoming ever more profound.

“- Are you aware that The Cure concert is 800,000 euros?
– Worth them!
– Yes, but on the basis of 27 songs, we are on 30,000 euros the title anyway, Valérie Pécresse knows?
– Shhh!, Worth it! ”

Everyone talks about the English and everyone is tanned at Rock en Seine, the hotbed of the re-entry of a Parisian musical microcosm in perpetual crisis for 15 years. But the faces are relaxed and the effervescence of enthusiasm is there again.

– In fifteen hours, Lana Del Rey’s new single has made 1.5 streams.
– The Chinese mafia must be behind it, it is not possible otherwise. ”

So, who in which position and in which label? What place closes, what other opens? Which artists go up?

“- You absolutely have to go and listen to” The Murder Capital “on the Firestone stage, are very small, are produced by Flood. You like Shame, you like Fountains DC, Joy Division but yeah …
– But rock is dead, don’t you know?
– The whole world is dead. He just has to be reborn! ”

An industry is awakening in the heat of the end of August. At its center, once the oversized egos have been overcome and avoided, a real sense of celebration, a moving us, superficial but endearing. A portrait to be done at each corner of the marquee.

»- This summer in Italy, I was the princess of the cacti. I reigned over the succulents lined up in a row around me. Some evenings I could also touch the planets, talk to them.
– It’s fascinating, but I said, I just saw a Bogdanoff all alone, he’s there, he’s talking to everyone, he wants to shake as many hands as possible, it seems. Incredible stuff, he’s without his brother, look there he is.
– No, it’s Jack Lang. “

Quickly, it’s 9 pm and you have to go in front of the Grande Scène, The Cure is announced by a soft double layer of synths. Robert Smith advances as in all his stage appearances, holding his fingers curled up. Hesitant in the middle of the Spectacle, he still doesn’t seem to understand why he’s enthroned there after four decades. Everyone has their Robert Smith. Mine precisely is the one who sings from the first seconds of the album ” Wish ” in 1992 “I don’t know what I’m doing here, I really think I should have gone to bed tonight. “ It is not a constructed pout. Her heartfelt response to a question from an overexcited journalist when the group was introduced to the Hall of Fame last March immediately revived her cult.

From the start, the interpretation that must be given to make-up, to this alliance of the paraphernalia of black clothes and lipstick, lies in the magnificent strangeness which is that of anguish. A perfect illustration of the Freudian concept ” Creepy “, title of an essay that appeared exactly 100 years ago in the German psychoanalytic journal Imago. With “The disturbing strangeness” Freud explains the unsettling sensation of a familiar which takes on the hue of the unfamiliar. The sympathetic pop side of the songs of the group quickly turns into total confusion. What belongs to the house is revealed pierced by what is foreign to it. Like these dolls that start talking, these ghost appearances or these noises in a so-called haunted house. Smith sings about the possible derealization at any moment, his melodies remind you that nothing is ever guaranteed to you in this corner of this universe. I shout in the ear of my exhausted wife with an unacceptable agitation at my age in a concert:

“- This is exactly what Martin Heidegger keeps saying, The Cure is the unveiling in the withdrawal darling …
Can you stop please? The concert has started.
-… we are thrown into the world, our ability to access the authenticity of being passes through openness to anxiety and emptiness. Robert Smith clearly sees all the obliques of this void, he sings from him.
– I want you to shut up, you piss everyone off.

In the clip of Lullaby (lullaby) in 1989, a spider comes to attack an adult Robert Smith but with a childish posture, installed in his bed. Fear seems to paralyze him as much as it does to arouse him sexually. It’s the same body at sixty who whispers a first song, “Plainsong”:

“I think it’s dark and it looks like it’s rain, you said
And the wind is blowing like it’s the end of the world, you said”

High, Just One Kiss, Push, Never enough… The Cure unwinds the impossible exhaustion of desire amid the perfect bass lines of the lanky and magnificent Simon Gallup. Text from a spy friend in front of another scene: “Johnny Marr is sad. The Smiths should never have gone their separate ways. “ He will not have my answer until later, texts always arrive late for festivals. A guy spins like a dervish with inverted colors under a tree, he regularly lifts his big black dress to ostensibly show his penis and his buttocks. In an ecstasy, he searches his bag and offers pom’potes to the people around him. ” Shake dog shake », « 39 », « Disintegration “. In the latter, Smith documents his journey through madness as much as the sweet offering scene that just took place. “Now that I know I am breaking into pieces, I will rip my heart out to offer it as food to anyone.” “

Recall, singles including ” Friday I’m in love “. Of course it’s Friday and friday never hesitate. I think I would have to find this interview with Robert Smith during the chaotic tour Pornography in the early 80s. After taking a little too much of something forbidden, he had spent the whole night playing tennis all alone against himself, without a ball, without a racket, in his head. I would like to know who had emerged victorious from this duel in the early morning? I would like to find his exact words.

The Cure or the grandeur of a world where anxieties and illuminations are precise: the music as a fantastic reversal of the most tenuous intimacy towards the electrically amplified front of the stadiums. From the urbi of a head to the ori of a field, a concert hall or a global webcast. Prodigious.

Then on Sunday, it is the confirmation of the information caught on the flight Friday evening. The Five Irish Youth The Murder Capital possess a powerful force, deaf and tense like a fixed idea. Did they not understand everything by naming themselves thus, has not the entire surface of the world become a capital of murder? Then later Aphex Twin appears on the Big Stage. The abstract and radical sounds and rhythms are mainly repulsive. Maybe I never really sat in front of the Warp label’s God Chapel.

Although it must be admitted that on the huge screens his visual criticism of great French figures, Holland, MBappé, Hidalgo, Mélenchon, Belmondo, Jane Birkin, Johnny Hallyday has a delicious acid side, a question remains unanswered, firefly between the rays green lasers of the show that cut the black sky into strips: why so few bodies in this music?