Robert Smith, looking a little like The Joker. (Daniel Rodrigue)
The Cure, 65daysofstatic American Airlines Center June 6, 2008
Better Than: Any concert The Cure’s played in Dallas since 1992--and maybe, just maybe, even better than that one.
Download: The accompanying slideshow of photos taken at the show.
Three hours into The Cure’s concert at American Airlines Center, Robert Smith puts his guitar down, grabs a cordless mic and ambles from one side of the stage to the other. Pausing to vamp for the camera phones, he skips, twirls and jumps as he crosses the stage.
He looks like he's having as much fun as the fans.
After “Why Can’t I Be You,” the rest of the band walks off the stage. Smith remains. The crowd claps, screams and stomps on the floor. Smith shrugs. “I’ll see what I can do,” he smiles, assuring the crowd before he disappears. But most long-time Cure fans know that, if they scream long enough, they’re gonna get at least three or four encores from Smith and Co.
Sure enough, it’s nearly midnight, and The Cure is starting its third encore of the evening.
Altogether, the band plays three-and-a-half hours--much longer than you’d expect from a group whose first album was released in 1979. Seriously, you have to give them props: guitarist Porl Thompson turned 50 last year; Smith turns 50 next year; bassist Simon Gallup will be “over the hill” the year after that.
But if this concert was any indicator of the bands future, it seems The Cure is only picking up speed as it goes.
Before the show started, hordes of young black-clad and zippered fans lined up to get their black-fingernails on some band merch, but as the crowd filled in, things became less and less goth and a little more, grey (as in..hair).
A band like The Cure is blessed and cursed by its imagination and longevity. Most fans have a “special album”—the first one. Or, at least, some radio-single that first introduced them to the band; “Friday I’m In Love” for some, “Boys Don’t Cry” for others. But how many became “fans” after listening to Wild Mood Swings or The Cure?
Seems Smith figured that out. Opening with a new song, “Underneath the Stars,” the audience was treated to nine classics before the next new one, and of the 38 songs the gloom-rockers played, only one was released between 1992’s Wish and the band’s 13th full-length release slated for this September.
The set list reads like a catalog of The Cure’s greatest hits, and even the new songs were reminiscent of tracks off Wish and Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me, which wasn’t surprising--guitarist Porl Thompson, who played on those albums, rejoined the band in 2005 and his guitar work makes all the difference. I think he’s magic; I mean, he does look like a post-Weight Watchers Uncle Fester.
And even over Thompson’s screaming guitar and Simon Gallup’s thumping bass, you could understand every word. Smith sounded as youthful, giddy and
whimsical gloomsical as ever.
Not that anybody in the room needed to hear the words to sing along. --Daniel Rodrigue
Critic's Notebook Personal Bias: I remember buying the Disintegration CD in a cardboard longbox, and my first “rock” concert was The Cure at Texas Stadium in ’92, so I’m pretty biased. But, on the other hand, other than a handful of songs, I thought the last three albums were lousy.
Random Note: Some guy on eBay is making a killing selling these shirts, because I saw at least 20 of ‘em. Guess I’m gonna be pulling those faded Cure t-shirts from the back of my closet, because no matter how good the next album is, there’s no way I’m paying $50 for a T-shirt.
By The Way: 65daysofstatic, the instrumental math-rock outfit from across the big pond, opened for The Cure. A few of their songs--coincidentally the ones that book ended the band’s set--were first-rate. 65dos, as their fans call them, was a good choice to warm up the crowd. But I was in the pit waiting to snap some pics, and one of the AAC employees was like, “Why they got mics, if they ain’t gonna sing?” I about died.
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Set List Underneath the Stars – Unreleased Prayers for Rain – Disintegration, 1989 A Night Like This – The Head on the Door, 1985. The Walk – Single, 1983. The End of the World – The Cure, 2004. Lovesong – Disintegration, 1989. To Wish Impossible Things – Wish, 1992. Pictures of You – Disintegration, 1989. Lullaby – Disintegration, 1989. Fascination Street – Disintegration, 1989. The Perfect Boy – Unreleased. From the Edge of the Deep Green Sea – Wish, 1992. Sleep When I’m Dead – Unreleased Push – The Head on the Door, 1985. Friday I'm In Love – Wish, 1992. In Between Days – The Head on the Door, 1985. Just Like Heaven – Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me, 1987. Primary – Faith, 1981. Shake Dog Shake – The Top, 1984 Never Enough – Mixed Up,1990 The Only One – Single from as-yet-untitled new album, 2008. Wrong Number – Single, 1997. The Baby Screams – The Head on the Door, 1985. One Hundred Years – Pornography, 1982. Baby Rag Dog Book – Unreleased.
First Encore: Three Imaginary Boys – Three Imaginary Boys, 1979. Fire in Cairo – Three Imaginary Boys, 1979. Boys Don't Cry – Single, 1979. Jumping Someone Else's Train – Three Imaginary Boys, 1979. Grinding Halt – Three Imaginary Boys, 1979. 10:15 Saturday Night – Three Imaginary Boys, 1979. Killing an Arab – Single, 1979.
Second Encore: The Lovecats – Single, 1982. Let's Go to Bed – Single, 1982. Freakshow – Single from as-yet-untitled new album, 2008. Close to Me – The Head on the Door, 1985. Why Can't I Be You? – Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me, 1987.
Third Encore: A Forest – Seventeen Seconds, 1980.