The Vivid Live Festival in Sydney scored a major coup when curator Stephen "Pav" Pavolic convinced Robert Smith to bring The Cure to Australia to commemorate the 30th anniversary of their seminal tour-de-force Faith, a new wave, post punk, Gothic Dark Side of the Moon.
"Now, we go back 33 years..."
- Robert Smith, upon hitting the stage, May 31, 2011
Word has it that while considering the opportunity, Smith requested that Faith’s predecessor, Seventeen Seconds, be added to the show to also give this underrated opus its due. Then later, Smith supposedly rang "Pav" back to add the band’s debut album, Three Imaginary Boys, to the night to “provide context.”
The three-album event, now given the name “Reflections,” grew further in stature as estranged band members were re-enlisted, along with a film crew, to capture and chronicle the event for a DVD release.
Faith’s congregation mobilized fast, and tickets for the two "Reflections" shows at the legendary Sydney Opera House sold out in mere minutes. Devotees travelled from around the planet — I met people from every continent save for Antarctica — to stroll down memory lane with The Cure. Tickets were in such demand they fetched up to $2200 a pair on eBay.
Smith's decision to "provide context" was a brave move, because Three Imaginary Boys was never to his liking, as it was rush-released by the band's record label and in many places was never issued properly. Some of its tracks were eventually added to a compilation of singles and B-sides from that era and released as Boys Don’t Cry in several countries.
In some respects, Three Imaginary Boys is a series of family photos; some you wish were lost forever while others privately bring a smile, a cringe or at least a smirk, and some you share proudly with your friends. None of this was lost on the band, and Smith even admitted after the misogynistic and juvenile “Object” that the track was never one of his favorites. Before “So What” Smith even confessed that he would be surprised if he remembered all the lyrics; he did.
This initial set featured Smith, longtime bass slinger Simon Gallup (1980-1982, 1985-present) and regular drummer Jason Cooper (since 1995). The trio replicated The Cure's 1978-era sound impeccably. Often, it was like seeing and hearing a group of teens thrashing in the garage, stumbling towards an identity.