'The time I partied with The Cure'

The Cure's upcoming SA concerts have Andrea Nagel feeling nostalgic about the US music tour she took after varsity

17 March 2019 - 00:00

We'd been in New York for two days on a post-varsity trip bumming around the States when we walked past a poster outside The House of Blues, famous live music venue owned by actor Dan Aykroyd, soft-rock band Aerosmith, musician Paul Shaffer, deceased actor River Phoenix and The Blues Brothers actor James Belushi, so a good chance there'd be some wonderful music to watch at the intimate club.
On this day the pudgy face of New Orleans boogie woogie superstar Dr John aka Mac Rebennack, one of the rather obscure musicians that had made my friend Liza and me such good travelling companions, was smiling at us from the flier.
We both love his New Orleans-style rhythm and blues with psychedelic rock and didn't hesitate to forgo a week of food to book tickets to his show that night.
We'd planned our trip to take in the best music cities in the States - the jumbled rhythms of New York, the blues of Chicago, the ragtime, Dixieland and Cajun sounds of New Orleans, the country twang of Nashville, the rock of Los Angeles's Sunset Strip.
Big concerts were beyond our budget, but a small show by our favourite voodoo daddy was possible and, after we'd brought down the roof with our support of the band in the early show, the band invited us to stay on in the now mostly empty club for the late show.
In the break, the old-timer jazz hands that made up Dr John's band asked us to come and sit at their table.
In between tots of Southern Comfort and imploring the band for performances of our favourite bayou numbers at the table, a shaggy-haired, pasty, rather unobtrusive-looking chap sauntered up to adulate the band.
"That's Robert Smith from The Cure," whispered Liza, jumping up to ambush him. The Southern Comforts had made her insensitive to his attempts at enjoying Dr John and his band incognito.
"Robert, can I ask you a few questions," she blurted out.
"Now is not the time nor the place," he drawled in an English accent that matched his sallow skin. "But if you girls would like to come with us to Smalls [a jazz club in Greenwich Village] perhaps we can have a chat there."
At Smalls over a few drinks Robert Smith invited Liza and me to David Bowie's 50th birthday concert at Madison Square Garden, where he was a guest performer, and to the after party. A pretty good first week of our USA music tour.

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