The Cure
Passport Back to the Bars

There's a drunk girl singing along so prominently on this audience recording that she almost deserves co-billing with the band … fortunately, she's only into the big pop songs, so the more obscure choices in the setlist are mostly unmarred. Even so, her quasi-lead vocals on "Lovesong," "Push," and "Pictures of You" are something to behold – she even sings the lead guitar lines! It gets so bad that Robert Smith has to start changing melodies and phrasing just to dodge her slurry karaoke. Never in my life have I laughed so hard listening to a Cure album.

The show itself is such a unique event, though, that it's rather amazing a boot exists of it in the first place, so I'll count my blessings. The show (5 March 2004) took place in the tiny Camden club Barfly, with an audience of only 200 lucky fans notified by text message as part of some kind of cellphone promotion. Some folks, of course, sold their slots to the highest bidder, so there are tales of folks paying like $3,000 to get in! Imagine paying three grand to have to endure a drunk chick shouting "QUIETLY!" along with the lyrics of "Pictures of You" … hilariously tragic.

The setlist was tailor-made for the diehards, with enough singalong stuff to make sense in a bar, and these fans got to witness the unannounced appearance of Cure old-schoolers Porl Thompson and Frank Bell joining the band onstage for some tracks from their very first demo! Of course, portly, bald Frank Bell, Stella in hand, belting out "I Dig You" and "I'm a Cult Hero" while legendary Robert Smith slinks to the background may be better in theory, but it's still a special moment.

Best bits: a fierce and surprising "Grinding Halt," a committed "Play For Today," a delightful "Lovecats" (in which the singalong aspect works especially well), and the honorable inclusion of "Maybe Someday" from Bloodflowers, which does not get ample props these days. Overall, it's much more a cherished artifact than a very listenable experience, but it's certainly nice to have. It's too bad no one clocked the drunk chick early on and put her out of everyone's misery.

Setlist: Shake Dog Shake, Fascination Street, A Strange Day, A Night Like This, Lovesong, Push, Sinking, Pictures of You, Lullaby, The Lovecats, Maybe Someday, In Your House, From the Edge of the Deep Green Sea, M, Charlotte Sometimes, Inbetween Days, Just Like Heaven, Hey You!, Play For Today, A Forest, Fire in Cairo, Grinding Halt, 10.15 Saturday Night, Boys Don't Cry, I Dig You, I'm a Cult Hero, Close to Me, Let's Go to Bed, Why Can't I Be You?, Friday I'm in Love.

Review by Dr. Quadpus