An evening with the Cure / Turangalîla-symphonie

The Cure / Olivier Messiaen

I don’t often go to Entertainment Centre rock concerts or to symphony concerts, and lately I don’t blog enough, so I may as well review these two together.

The Cure are one of those bands which I deeply loved when I was fifteen but don’t actually own much of because I was always listening to my brother’s copies or tapes from friend, and I love it when Achewood makes affectionate fun of them; really, I was going along to see them on Friday because I never saw them live before, and didn’t really know what to expect. I wasn’t expecting it to be three hours of rock power which would wipe the ironic, thirty-something smirk off my face and replace it with a smile of delight, but sometimes that happens. I had forgotten what a great song “Push” is, and the version of “Close To Me” was great – the keyboard twiddles and brass lines of the original were replaced by blues licks.

The Cure didn’t have a keyboard player (another surprise) so Messiaen’s Turangalîla-symphonie made up for that, as it’s scored for a big orchestra, piano and ondes martenot, a 20s electrical instrument which sounds like a theremin with an organ attached, or the other way around. As usual, electrical instruments in orchestral music sound a bit gimmicky or comic, but the work as a whole (which I’m not familiar with) lived up to its reputation for being lush and sexy and overwhelming. The concert hall was only about three-quarters full; I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing – at least most of the audience wanted to be there. I’ve been to concerts with a mixture of 19th and 20th century works on the bill which were spoiled by half the crowd grumbling childishly through the “modern” works.

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