History made: The Cure, Wellington

By David Maclennan

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David Maclennan instigated a jam session with The Cure at a Wellington practice room on 3 August 1981.

David Maclennan, Robert Smith and Nigel Elder from Neoteric Tribesmen. Standing is The Cure’s Simon Gallup and, at right, Stephen Norris and Kate Walker from Naked Spots Dance. Photo / Charles Jameson
David Maclennan, Robert Smith and Nigel Elder from Neoteric Tribesmen. Standing is The Cure’s Simon Gallup and, at right, Stephen Norris and Kate Walker from Naked Spots Dance. Photo / Charles Jameson

Heard the one about The Cure jamming with local Wellington musicians one night during an early '80s tour? That story has been floating around for years in various forms, but I'm here to tell you that it did happen.

It was 3 August 1981, and The Cure were in New Zealand on their second tour, promoting their recently-released third album Faith. Some of us in the Wellington punk/underground scene had befriended the band during their visit the year before, and I'd already interviewed Robert Smith twice for local music mag In Touch, and we'd also kept in touch by mail. Mad keen as we were, a bunch of us decided to go up and see the Palmerston North gig on the Sunday, and backstage a plan was hatched to throw a bit of a party at my flat in Hay St, Oriental Bay the following evening, as the two Wellington shows weren't until the Tuesday night.

It wasn't a huge party - basically just members of various local bands, including Beat Rhythm Fashion, Naked Spots Dance, Neoteric Tribesmen and my own band, Domestic Blitz, plus some of the In Touch crew and a few other hangers-on.

The Cure brought a couple of their road crew with them (including former Dude Peter Urlich), as well as plenty of beer and, er, other substances, and a ripper time was had.

By 1 am we were all flying, and one of the Neoterics suggested heading down to their practice room for a jam session, so off we went, either on foot or in The Cure's van. The practice room was in the basement of Clyde Quay School, a short distance away in Mt Victoria.

The jam was very noisy, but a lot of fun (pity the poor neighbours!). The Neoterics played a few of their songs with The Cure's Lol Tolhurst on drums, then The Cure themselves did a few of theirs and sounded like a real garage band. We then did one of my band's songs with Robert on bass and Lol on drums, finally packing it in around 3 am.

Some of us ended back to The Cure's hotel on Oriental Parade, where, speeding off our nuts, we listened to a rough mix of their new single Charlotte Sometimes over and over... I think I left around 6.30 a.m. What a night!

How The Cure managed to find the energy to play not one but two complete sold-out shows at the Wellington Town Hall the following night, I have no idea. Robert Smith looked absolutely knackered after the second, and he wasn't the only one.

There were further adventures with The Cure on their 1984 visit too - but that's another story!

What: The Cure w/ local bands Beat Rhythm Fashion, Naked Spots Dance, Neoteric Tribesmen and Domestic Blitz
Where: Practice room at Clyde Quay School, Wellington
When: August 3, 1981

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