On March 4th, 1979, The Cure selected Joy Division to open for them during a series of Sunday gigs at The Marquee Club in London. Another band selected by Robert Smith and Co. for this honor was Scottish post-punk band Scars, who would close out the series of 4 Sundays on March 25th.
No recording of the concert exists. However, someone did retrieve the handwritten set list by Ian Curtis appropriately scribed on the back of a page from a synthesizer manual.
The Cure’s lineup was comprised of Robert Smith, Michael Dempsey, and Laurence Tolhurst with a set list of material from their first record and early singles.
- 10.15 Saturday Night
- Grinding Halt
- Another Day
- Subway Song
- Foxy Lady
- Three Imaginary Boys
- Boys Don’t Cry
- Plastic Passion
- Fire In Cairo
- It’s Not You
- Do The Hansa
- Killing An Arab
- 10.15 Saturday Night
On January 29th, 2013, original Cure drummer Laurence Tolhurst wrote on the Facebook page for his band Levinhurst a response to Joy Division bassist Peter Hook apparently calling The Cure ‘sellouts’ in reference to the gig:
“But I understand Peter Hook has a new book out wherein he speaks about a certain 1979 gig that Joy Division supported the Cure at? Well I remember that particular gig too and my memory is somewhat different from Pete’s. See we arranged a show at the Marquee club in London for every Sunday for a month (called it a month of Sundays I think) and picked every band that opened for us. Because we, LIKED them and wanted to help them out. Not for any reason other than that.”
There are rumours that early versions of the single “Primary” aka “Cold Colours” were dedicated to the late Ian Curtis after his suicide—which would make “Primary” the second song on The Cure’s third album Faith to have been performed in the late Joy Division singer’s honor.
The other song “The Holy Hour”—was dedicated to Ian Curtis during a concert in Amsterdam on October 17th, 1980. This makes you wonder if the ‘funeral’ theme for the record was the result of the Joy Division singer’s suicide.
Robert Smith was a fan of Curtis, and Joy Division, and had this to say about it in a recent interview:
“In 1980 we did a thing in London at the Marquee Club…we picked the four bands we wanted to play with us, and Joy Division were one of those bands…I heard Unknown Pleasures on the radio on John Peel, and they were just fantastic.
They were the best thing I’d seen–not ever, because I’d seen Bowie and the Stones–but they were of that generation of bands which is my generation of bands they were so powerful…that was our best show that year, I think, we went on after them and we had to really we had to try hard to match what they did…it’s a shame about Ian Curtis…it’s like Jimi Hendrix or Kurt Cobain…people that good come around far too infrequently.”
Pick up Lol Tolhurst’s book Cured: The Tale of Two Imaginary Boys for more info on this night, and other stories.
*part of the cover photo featuring Ian Curtis—credit Philippe Carly New Wave Photos