Updated: Jan 24, 2020
The Cure - "A Forest" - 1980: two hypnotically brilliant live versions reviewed
We are told that walking in forests is good for the soul and this particular forest is a stunningly atmospheric gothic rock band, best heard live!
We have selected two live versions of this song with a combined viewing total of 7,000,000: the controversial performance at the 1981 Werchter Festival in Belgium which
triggered the anti-Robert Palmer rant with Robert Smith looking like a sort of shamanic doctor in his crisp white shirt and tribal make up, and a 2019 version at Pinkpop Festival - just as hypnotically brilliant as they were back in 1981 and drawing a massive fan base for the evocative rendering in forest green light with bass player, Simon Gallup, prowling around the stage like a great bear.
This song has a drive and understated depth that ignites your soul and makes you want to move. Recently I heard a dance mix with enhanced bass that really fired up my imagination - a great song with such an emotive melody and guitar effects that can “cure” all ills!
Whatever we say, Robert Smith considers “A Forest” to be the turning point for the band where people began listening to their music and believing in their potential, talking to Rolling Stone in 2004… "With “A Forest” I wanted to do something that was really atmospheric”, and it has a fantastic sound. Chris Parry said, “If you make this sound radio friendly, you’ve got a big hit on your hands.” and I said, “But this is how it sounds. It’s the sound I’ve got in my head. It doesn’t matter about whether it’s radio friendly."
As a single, it reached No 31 in the charts, and we would have no hesitation playing it live on the radio.