Cure, Bush Preview Albums In TV Tapings

British bands do back-to-back shows for 'Hard Rock Live.'

NEW YORK — With stone faces, the Cure sang keyboard-driven songs of darkness

and despair and Bush crashed manically through a set of

guitar rock in back-to-back television tapings Tuesday night during

which the two British bands previewed upcoming albums.

The concerts were taped in front of audiences of about 200 each at Sony

Studios on Manhattan's West Side for VH1's weekly series "Hard Rock

Live." The cable channel's publicists said air dates for the Cure and

Bush shows were not available.

As the title of the series implies, each band rocked hard in the studio,

which was dressed up to look like a concert hall. They also maintained a

light rapport with their crowds.

"They're changing the tape. Just like a real concert. According to Milli

Vanilli," the Cure's bushy-haired, brooding singer, Robert Smith, joked

during a break. He was referring to the '80s pop duo who were stripped

of a Grammy Award after the disclosure that they didn't sing on their

own album.

Bush's dapper frontman, Gavin Rossdale, told fans about taping another

television show in Germany a week earlier. "It was like a supermarket

there," he said. "It had no f---ing atmosphere. So you guys rock

compared to that."

The Cure, who helped make Goth-rock a household word in the 1980s with

their combination of dense pop melodies and electronic ambiance,

performed first. They're scheduled to release Bloodflowers, their

first studio album in three years, on Feb. 15.

They played several of the new songs, which Smith said made up "hardly

an album of pop hits." The songs, including "The Last Day of Summer,"

"Out of This World" and "Bloodflowers," were heavy on landscape, with

keyboard effects and feedback driving them. They were expansive, melodic

and dark. "You only get to stay here for so long," Smith sang during

"Out of This World." "You always have to go back to real life."

Levi Pervin, a 32-year-old fan from Manhattan, said the new material

reminded him of songs from the Cure's 1989 Disintegration, many

of which, like all of the new ones, used long musical introductions.

Smith has described the new album as the final part of a trilogy that

began with Pornography (1982) and continued on Disintegration.

"It's great they're doing stuff like that again," Pervin said. "It's

atmospheric, very dreamy. I can close my eyes and really sink into it."

While many in the crowd were VIPs, others were fans off the street.

Tickets for the shows were free, and admission was on a first-come,

first-served basis.

Dressed in black shirts and pants, the members of the Cure smiled and

appeared relaxed only between songs. As they played, they were focused

and showed no emotion. They lightened up only as producers changed tape,

at one point playing an impromptu version of their hit "Boys Don't Cry"

(

HREF="http://www.sonicnet.com/artists/clip.cgi?track=%7Eii-XXXXXX%2F0017509_0101_00_0002.ra">RealAudio

excerpt).

Bush, on the other hand, were animated as they pounded out hard-rocking

guitar songs. Rossdale, in a form-fitting blue sweater and dyed,

bright red hair, jumped, spun, danced and implored fans to wave their

hands and jump along with him. He and his bandmates blasted through Bush's

catalog of radio hits, with soaring guitar riffs and swirls of guitar

cacophony.

The new songs they played, from their third studio album, The Science

of Things, due Tuesday, included the electro-rocker "The Chemicals

Between Us," the guitar-heavy "Warm Machine," and the ballad "40 Miles

From the Sun." On record, "The Chemicals Between Us" is a pop song with

drum programming. But live, with its stop-and-go guitar breaks, oddly

clopping drums and keyboard punch, it sounded more like Rush's "2112"

than a Bush song.

Bush played their older songs more conventionally. Rossdale and lead

guitarist Nigel Pulsford crashed their guitars in unison on the

descending riff of "Greedy Fly" (

HREF="http://media.addict.com/music/Bush/Greedy_Fly.ram">RealAudio

excerpt). "Comedown" began with a minute-long bass solo by Dave

Parsons, during which Rossdale ran in place. Rossdale played a solo

version of "Glycerine," which, stripped of the recorded version's string

section, sounded loud and spooky.

The Cure's fans were respectfully contained, but not Bush's fans. Women

screamed between songs and during them, and continued even as producers

changed an audio reel.

Karen Dragotto, of Manhattan, said she's been a fan of Bush since they

became popular in the U.S. five years ago

"They came out of that whole alternative thing," she said. "But they

just sounded different. They weren't like Candlebox."

"Hard Rock Live" airs Saturday nights on VH1. An episode featuring rock

bands Sugar Ray and Smash Mouth airs on Saturday. Other upcoming shows

will feature the Cranberries, Bad Company and Meat Loaf, according to a

VH1 spokesperson.

(SonicNet's parent company, Viacom, also owns VH1.)