The Cure set to bring line-up of love songs to Auckland's Vector Arena

Robert Smith: Pushing 60 but still rocking.
Simone Joyner

Robert Smith: Pushing 60 but still rocking.

You could be forgiven for calling The Cure a "goth band". It's a common misconception. 

It's also a label that frontman Robert Smith constantly decries, although admittedly one that he, with his smeared lipstick and all-black garb, doesn't do much to combat.

But the "goth band" label is ultimately unfair – no matter how many fishnet-stockinged, heavily-eyelinered concertgoers you'll see at their shows.

Goth is, for all intents and purposes, a fixed subculture. The Cure are more fluid and more poppy and more influential than that.

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They've been around for 40 years now, although Smith is the only original member still standing. You can't quite call him ageing, but he's getting there.

His voice has hardly changed, though – it's still melodic, still mournful, still wailing about love and loss over those almost incongruously toe-tapping beats.

That's where The Cure shines.

That's the reason their songs are still relevant, still played and re-played and danced to and adored, nearly half-a-century on.

They're universal, those love songs – at turns giddily ecstatic, or heartrending and hopeless. 

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Scores of wedding DJs still have The Lovecats in rotation. Just Like Heaven is played over the credits of romantic comedies. And I challenge you to find a better break-up anthem than The End of the World.

Smith has always described The Cure as a "raincoat band"; those weird kids at the party staring at their shoes.

But there's a lot of levity in there, too. Even Cut Here, a song about a friend's suicide, is a tune ripe for the dancefloor. 

"I miss you, I miss you, I miss you so much", Smith whispers, and the synth repeats its same three notes and you can feel yourself start to bop along.

Emo, of course, owes a debt to The Cure. So too do Marilyn Manson and the Smashing Pumpkins and Edward Scissorhands.

Smith was wearing make-up and singing about male fragility (because how can you write about The Cure without mentioning Boys Don't Cry?) long before Tumblr and skinny jeans came into vogue.

But you don't need to eschew colour or enjoy long walks in a graveyard to appreciate their music.

All you need is to have lost someone. Or have fallen in love. Or to have had your heart broken so badly you thought, for a moment, you might not live through it, and then got up and lived through it anyway.

Those themes are simple and universal and enduring. That's why the very young and the very old alike will be shoulder to shoulder at their Auckland gig, belting out the lyrics to A Forest or Friday I'm In Love.

In a rare interview with The Guardian in 2011, Smith talked about (what else?) the futility of life, the pointlessness of existence.

"I enjoy myself hugely," he said, with a laugh. 

"But you know, it's despite myself, really."

Show me, show me, show me how you do that trick.

The Cure play Vector Arena on July 21 from 7.30pm. Tickets are still available from

 - Stuff

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