The Cure had been around for three years by the the time their Future Pastimes tour hit Paris on December 8th, 1979, but they’d only just began playing shows outside of their native England as their debut LP Three Imaginary Boys was starting to pick up buzz. Their three-song set at the Théâtre de l’Empire was filmed for the French television show Chorus, and they wrapped up with their 1978 single “Killing An Arab.” Check it out above.
Robert Smith was just 20 years old and had yet to develop his trademark goth stage persona, and he had only been the true frontman of the group for a little over a year. He wrote “Killing an Arab” after reading Albert Camus’ 1942 novel The Stranger, which features the central character murdering an Arab man on the beach for no clear reason after attending his mother’s funeral.
The Cure compilation albums Standing on a Beach and Staring at the Sea were named after lyrics in “Killing an Arab,” though Smith has an uneasy relationship with the song. Some critics felt it advocated violence against Arabs, and after September 11th, Smith changed the lyric to “Kissing an Arab,” “Killing an Ahab” and, most recently, “Killing Another.”
The “Killing Another” version of the tune wrapped up many shows on the Cure’s 2014 tour, though so far it hasn’t appeared on the group’s 2016 setlist. The group is playing a ton of 1980s rarities and on the second show broke out 10 of the 12 songs from Disintegration. Since they’re on the road through December, it seems like only a matter of time before some version of “Killing an Arab” returns.