Mostly for old time’s sake — because although I haven’t listened to any of their CDs for a while, their music did accompany many long evenings of teenage gloom in the 1980s — and also because they don’t appear on TV very much in the UK anymore, I tuned in to the end of Friday Night with Jonathan Ross on BBC1 yesterday evening specifically to watch The Cure performing a couple of songs.
Now, I am the first to confess that there was a time when I wanted Robert Smith’s hair. In fact, I wanted it badly. During my short-lived — and consequently, some would say, extremely half-hearted — Goth phase some fifteen years ago, it was exactly that look I was going for. A back-combed, unkempt, lived-in (and slept-in) tangled mess of hair, assisted by enough extra firm hold hairspray to puncture several large holes in the ozone layer. Sadly, my hair has a tendency to droop alarmingly almost immediately, no matter how vigorously it’s been attacked with a comb, so most of the time it probably seemed as if I was wearing a pitch-black floor-mop on my head. Not a good look, frankly.
Last night, however, I think I finally fell out of love with Robert’s unique approach to hair care. To be fair, I don’t think even he was having a particularly Good Hair Day, but on this 45-year-old man that trademark fright-wig was beginning to look, well, a bit frightening. And impractical. And unhygienic. I’m sure that at one point I spotted a small family of mice nestled in there somewhere.
In an interview in The Guardian, Smith says that far from wanting him to go out and get his hair cut, his wife actually likes his distressed tangles. Blimey. Imagine having that mass of split ends lying beside you on the pillows each night, particularly when all the insects come crawling out for their nocturnal stroll.
Or maybe we should all be saying, “Good on you, Bob!” Whereas I’m only 32 and already want my chosen hairstyle to be practical, user-friendly and reassuringly low maintenance, he’s in his mid-forties and doesn’t give a damn. And it might even look quite cool once he starts going grey. Einstein as a rock star somehow springs to mind.
Watching The Cure’s performance, I continued to muse on Robert Smith’s appearance — possibly to the detriment of actually listening to what they were playing, sadly. Something was nagging at me, and I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. He reminded me of someone … but who was it?
And then it came to me. Before my eyes, indie god Robert Smith had transformed himself into the grandest and most diamond-encrusted Hollywood has-been of them all — Elizabeth Taylor.
Oh, but hang on a moment. It wasn’t Dame Liz and her seventy-three ex-husbands I was thinking of. No, not at all. Appearing before me on the television screen, singing Inbetween Days as a black-haired vision of eeriness that would be the envy of any dedicated Goth, it was the one and only … Liza Minnelli.
That was the last straw. I had to turn off the TV before the band finished their brief set. It was all getting far too scary, even for an ex-Goth. I think it’s time for all Cure fans past and present to club together and at least buy our dear Uncle Bob a few gift sets of shampoo and conditioner — even if he doesn’t want to entirely sell out his ‘indie cred’ by having his hair styled into something more controlled and manageable. Meanwhile, I think I’ll go back to appreciating The Cure as a purely audio experience for the time being, until all these disturbing comparisons finally vanish from my mind.