In 2005, Robert Smith reconfigured The Cure into a quartet, losing the keyboards. Since then, he has led a line-up that features guitarist Porl Thompson, who is marking his third tour of duty with the band; bassist Simon Gallup, who has the second longest tenure in behind Robert; and drummer Jason Cooper, who has been a member since 1996’s Wild Mood Swings. They are currently on the road in support of their so-far untitled 13th studio album that will be released September 13, 2008.
The Cure took the stage at eight o’clock. The sun hadn’t completely set, but the viewscreens provided the proper backdrop for “Underneath The Stars,” a new song, likely from the upcoming album. Unfortunately many concert-goers nowadays are obnoxious rubes, so they interpreted their lack of recognizing the opening notes as a cue to continue talking amongst themselves and totally discounted the fact that a band they enjoy might create a new song they like, although that would require them to open their minds and give it a chance.
What’s frustrating about a band like The Cure that has been around so long and had much success is people come to them by way of different material. Some fell in love with the band’s early darker music while others discovered what made its way onto Top 40 radio. Unfortunately, the concert tickets aren’t dispensed grouping like-minded fans together.
In Section U2, a gaggle of gals sat behind my wife and were very annoying. The Bowl allows people to bring in picnic baskets, so before the show started we had to listen to their incessant carrying on about the gourmet items they shared: “Who wants onion hummus? Did you try this cheese from Montengro? Is the prosciutto gone?”
When The Cure moved onto “Prayers For Rain” from Disintegration, the women calmed down a little, but “A Night Like This” from Head on the Door was obviously unknown to them because they started chatting back up again. Not enough for me to understand what they were saying, but they still created an annoying drone in the background. The more popular “The Walk” got people dancing and at least the bothersome voices were singing the lyrics. An even more annoying group of drunk, obnoxious women sat down a row behind them. They would be fine during something popular like “Lovesong” or “Pictures of You” because their tone-deaf caterwauling of the lyrics was slightly less annoying than their vapid conversations about cheerleaders.
During “Lullaby” the gourmet squad was rousted from their seats because these geniuses of epicurean matters couldn’t read their tickets correctly. I issued a sigh of relief. That is until the rightful owners took their seats because they were louder and more annoying. They were two Hispanic couples that were a bad combination of drunk and stupid, which caused them to be an hour late to the show, competed for volume against The Cure.
One gentleman, a polite term I have chosen over the more apt description “loudmouthed fuckwad,” shouted about where his seats were earlier in the week during The Police concert. He babbled on for a while and I couldn’t believe the gals he was with didn’t tell him to pipe down. The guys of course left for more beer and one of the women took up the task of annoying everyone with her inconsequential talk and squeaky voice, naturally stopping for her favorite song “Friday I’m In Love.” Personally I would prefer at least 50-something songs to that, but it is an undeniably well-crafted pop song, and it does shape my opinion of someone’s fandom for the band when that tops their list.
The male half of the idiot quartet returned and continued their babbling, like gentleman #2 thinking his changing of the lyrics in Wish’s “A Letter To Elise” to Elsa was clever. After the first set concluded, they thankfully talked themselves into leaving in case they didn’t like the encore, although how they would know since they didn’t pay attention to the music is beyond me.
Robert rewarded long time fans with encores that lasted nearly an hour. People foolishly began to make their way out throughout the remainder of the night. Their loss, but they likely wouldn’t have appreciated it. The first was two songs were from Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me. Both “If Only Tonight We Could Sleep” and “The Kiss” featured long instrumental intros before the lyrics kicked in, and really made clear how talented they all are as musicians. The second encore was four songs from Seventeen Seconds, including what would be my all-time favorite Cure song if forced to pick one, “A Forest.” The third encore featured a collection of their more popular hits, some of which had slightly different arrangements. After “Lovecats,” which found Robert making some nice sounds on guitar, he took a mic and wandered the stage as he sang while the remaining trio played on.
It was almost 11 o’clock after they left the stage for the third time and the Bowl has a curfew, so we didn’t expect their return, but the lights didn’t come up and Robert and the band came back out. He told the remaining faithful, “I dared them to cut the power,” which was greeted by a roar and they went into “Boys Don’t Cry.” However, they ended right at 11 by my watch, so their rebellion wasn’t as grand as it seemed.
It’s impressive that after nearly three decades The Cure still play sets of three hours, when they could easily coast by delivering a bunch of hits for a couple of hours as many of their peers do. It’s astounding the number of great songs they performed while still having many left unplayed. This was my fifth show since 1989 and I have been completely satisfied by the band every time. I just discovered a bootleg of the show and hope the same type of “fans” didn’t surround the taper.
The Cure, and Robert Smith in particular, are a musical force that has certainly left a mark on popular music as indelible as anyone in the last twenty years of the twentieth century. Their absence from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is a travesty, and reflects poorly on the Hall and its members.
Underneath The Stars, Prayers For Rain, A Night Like This, The Walk, The End of the World, Lovesong, Sleep When I'm Dead, To Wish Impossible Things, Pictures of You, Lullaby, From the Edge of the Deep Green Sea, The Perfect Boy, Hot Hot Hot, The Only One, Push, Friday I'm In Love, Inbetween Days, Just Like Heaven, A Letter To Elise, Never Enough, Wrong Number, One Hundred Years, Baby Rag Dog Book
If Only Tonight We Could Sleep, The Kiss
At Night, M, Play For Today, A Forest
Lovecats, Let's Go To Bed, Freakshow, Close To Me, Why Can't I Be You?
Boys Don't Cry