94. THE CURE, 6/15/08

Location: The Arena at Gwinnett Center, Duluth, GA
Supporting Act(s): 65daysofstatic
In the Company of: Chris

Founding member, singer, songwriter, and glue-that-holds-the-band-together Robert Smith has never been accused of giving up easily. Even in the early nineties, there was talk of the Cure’s demise, yet Smith always found a way – or another musician – to keep it going. Since the group’s formation way back in 1976 (starting off as Glove then Easy Cure before settling on The Cure), Smith has made many personnel changes to his Goth-rock line-up, although his outward appearance has not changed as much, wearing all black with his trademark electrocuted hair, heavy eyeliner, and red lipstick.

For the current line-up, Smith is joined by the amazing Porl Thompson on guitar. Thompson has shaved his head and is sporting large raccoon eyes with stripes across the left side of his noggin. He is a frightening presence, appearing very tall, maybe because of those five-inch heels. He wore all black, with vinyl/plastic-looking pants. If Gene Simmons and Marilyn Manson were to have a lovechild, this would be the offspring. Simon Gallup brought us all down low on the bass and Jason Cooper was more than proficient on the drums.

For a group of rock “veterans,” energy was not a factor. The band played for an astonishing three hours and two minutes, which included 37 songs and three encores. When the show ended at 12:17 am, I had witnessed the best Cure show I’d seen (this was my third one). As the show began with “Underneath The Stars,” there was a white noise ocean sound, reminiscent of the opening sounds of “I Am The Sea,” from the Who’s “Quadrophenia.” Gone are the keyboards/synthesizers, which helped define the Cure’s sound over the past thirty years. This is a new, stripped-down collective, which requires some adjustments. Mostly, Smith and Thompson showed their guitar prowess in replacing those former instruments. What the fans got was a cleaner, tighter set of songs.

The musicianship was excellent, with no weak members in the band. Smith’s voice was perfect for the entire evening. He seemed very appreciative, smiling and dancing during several songs, despite the less than sold-out crowd, which was mostly made up of thirty- and forty-somethings. Not as many young, Goth kids as you may think, but they were there.

True Cure fans were treated to many older, lesser-known songs. But it was the better-known selections that invigorated the masses. Smith culled many of the evening’s songs from the band’s peak years during the mid- to late-eighties. From 1985’s “The Head On The Door” we heard “Inbetween Days,” “Push,” and “Close To Me” (“I’ve waited hours for this / I’ve made myself so sick / I wish I’d stayed asleep today / I never thought this day would end / I never thought tonight could ever be / This close to me”). From 1987’s “Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me” came “Hot Hot Hot!!!,” “Why Can’t I Be You?” “Kyoto Song,” and the wonderfully happy “Just Like Heaven” (“Show me, show me, show me how you do that trick / The one that makes me scream, she said”). And 1989’s “Disintegration” gave us “Fascination Street,” “Lovesong,” “Pictures Of You,” and “Lullaby.”

The classics, though, were not forgotten, such as “Boys Don’t Cry,” “10:15 Saturday Night,” “A Forest,” and “The Lovecats” (“Into the sea you and me / All these years and no one heard / I’ll show you in spring it’s a treacherous thing / We missed you hissed the love cats”). Also played was the rocking new single “Freakshow,” from the Cure’s forthcoming, yet to be named album (Geffen). This is their thirteenth studio recording and the band is releasing one single on the 13th of each month leading up to the September 13 release date. Sounds like we’re in for some good luck.

Opening the show was Sheffield England’s 65daysofstatic, an alt-rock totally instrumental band that were surprisingly great. Besides a few thank yous, we didn’t hear much vocally. But the four-piece treated us to some interesting rock music. With some pre-recorded speaking and synthesized music kicking off a few songs, they definitely set themselves apart from most other modern rock bands. With the opening slot for the Cure tour, they are sure to get some much-deserved attention.

Set List (thanks in part to my memory and a little help from http://www.chainofflowers.com):

1. Underneath The Stars
2. Want
3. A Strange Day
4. The Walk
5. The End of the World
6. Lovesong
7. To Wish Impossible Things
8. Pictures of You
9. Lullaby
10. Fascination Street
11. The Perfect Boy
12. From the Edge of the Deep Green Sea
13. Other Voices
14. Sleep When I’m Dead
15. Push
16. Doing The Unstuck
17. Inbetween Days
18. Just Like Heaven
19. Kyoto Song
20. Hot Hot Hot!!!
21. The Only One
22. Charlotte Sometimes
23. Signal To Noise
24. One Hundred Years
25. Baby Rag Dog Book

First Encore:
26. At Night
27. M
28. Play For Today
29. A Forest

Second Encore:
30. The Lovecats
31. Let’s Go To Bed
32. Freakshow
33. Close To Me
34. Why Can’t I Be You?

Third Encore:
35. Boys Don’t Cry
36. 10:15 Saturday Night
37. Killing An Arab

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