To see The Cure live has been a dream of mine for more than ten years. In middle school, I used to spend my Friday and Saturday nights watching alternative music videos on VH1 Classic with a plate of french fries for my dinner/late night snack. That was before the DVR craze, so I made sure I was glued to the television when the half hour bit came on around midnight. I was captured by Robert Smith’s crooning vocals in Lovesong, the sweet lyrics of Just Like Heaven, the catchy beat of Close to Me, and the beautifully strange visuals for the Lullaby video. My mom dug out her vinyl record of Standing on a Beach: The Singles and, being technologically savvy, burned it from her record player onto a CD for me. I still have that CD and treasure the pops and clicks of the vinyl. I became obsessed with The Walk, Charlotte Sometimes, and Let’s Go to Bed.
Later, I bought Show on CD – The Cure’s live concert in Detroit for the Wish album tour. It was then I knew I had to see them in concert someday. The Cure sounds amazing in the studio, but hearing them live was like seeing color for the first time after only black and white.
For my 16th birthday, my dad bought me Join The Dots: B-Sides and Rarities, a beautiful 4-disc set with a photo booklet. I must have played those songs dozens of times as I sat at my desk and worked on a watercolor painting of Robert Smith.
To see The Cure live was a dream I never thought would come true. They hadn’t toured the US in years, and I didn’t know whether they ever would. So when I found out in late 2015 they were crossing the pond in 2016, I charged tickets to my credit card as soon as they went on sale. Actually, the tickets for Fiddler’s Green Amphitheater – which seats 18,000 – sold out almost instantly. The second they went on sale, I went to the website to purchase tickets and they were already gone. I had to get mine from a third party seller.
To say the concert was everything I’d hoped for is an understatement. The Cure fittingly opened with “Out of This World” (“When we look back at it all as I know we will/You and me, wide eyed/I wonder, will we really remember/how it feels to be this alive?”). As the music filled the enormous outdoor arena in front of the giant video backdrop, it was truly like stepping into another place and time.
I don’t think I’ve felt such a range of emotions at a concert ever before. Robert Smith’s crooning laments brought tears to my eyes, while his giddy performance of “Why Can’t I Be You?” made me laugh. Despite a comment about the altitude affecting his voice, Robert Smith sang every song on key and filled each word with intense emotion. They say you should live each day as though it is your last, and Robert Smith has taken this advice to heart by treating every performance as though it is his last; and yet, he isn’t jaded – that night in Denver could have been the debut of “Just Like Heaven” for all an outsider knew.
Simon Gallup bounced around on stage while thrumming his bass, and gave a picture-perfect, resounding performance during “A Forest“. Roger O’Donnell nailed it on the keyboard, an instrument integral to nearly every Cure song. Reeves Gabrels, David Bowie’s longtime musical partner, was a perfect fit, a truly talented guitarist. Jason Cooper’s crisp drumming held the music together like finely executed stitches on an elegant quilt.
Besides playing a lot of their back catalog, including some more obscure tracks from Seventeen Seconds (“We’re going to play something the dinosaurs used to whistle,” Smith said), The Cure also played a lot of their more upbeat hits (“Hot Hot Hot,” “Caterpillar Girl”), especially towards the end of the set. They brought out a new song entitled “It Can Never Be The Same,” a dreamy ballad a la “Bloodflowers,” the title of which is emblazoned on Smith’s guitar.
After three hours and 32 songs, The Cure said their goodbyes and left the stage, and left me feeling the same way I do after a good movie, or a good book: like my heart has been torn from my chest and ripped into pieces and then glued all back together again but with even better bits. Anyone who can do that to me has the mark of a true artist.
*Photos courtesy of Karen Surat (my mom). Good thing she knows how to use a camera, because I usually can’t be bothered with one at a concert.