The last time I saw the Cure play was somewhere in 2018 before the pandemic hit. Robert Smith was already showing his age, but his spiffy brand new high tops accented by a well oversized, untucked collar shirt and jeans topped with his characteristic mess of black-dyed hard going everywhere but Sunday was still in place. He seemed tired and worn down, which made a lot of sense since the man and his band had been running since the late 1970s with their alternative music sound.
Back then, on the heels of the groundbreaking UK punk scene led by the Sex Pistols, the Cure were one of the first descendants of the absolute shock look, being quickly crowded on stage by a slew of similar bands all coming out of the same genre and scene. That potpourri of music produced everything from the Smiths and the Damned to Souixsie and the Banshees and Joy Division among many other names.
Most bands quickly ended up fading into obscurity within about five years, but the Cure hung on, developing their following and easily generating new material just about every year. Looking back on it now, more than five decades later, the Cure easily could have retired some 20 years ago and still be millionaires today, but they kept going. In fact, one could argue the band is pretty much the goth and alternative version of The Rolling Stones today, especially after David Bowie passed away and passed on the throne to those who came right after his Stardustedness.
Back to the show, I caught the band’s concert on a fluke. They were passing through the Bay Area and added a second show at the last minute on Memorial Day, playing at the Shoreline Amphitheatre in Santa Clara. The last time I was there, it was one of Bowie’s last shows ever before his cancer took him down, headlining with Nine Inch Nails in a combo show. That was an experience as well.
In any case, my family and I, now two generations of Cure fans, ambled up to the lawn section. Talk about weird. I couldn’t see the stage from where we were sitting but I could literally see the whole show on a big megatron TV screen!
That was a new experience. While the band was tuning up, there was Robert Smith, now in his sixties, looking at the stage camera face-on with some graying hair, a tired face, and playing with the camera lens like Kermit the Frog doing a closeup.
The first hour of the show was a lot of slow songs and esoteric music. Probably the funniest part was the frontman showing his age trying to remember the year they first played a particular song, “19… uh, oh fuck it, I can’t remember everything.” Smith was in classic honesty, flinging a well-place F-bomb every few minutes between songs.
By about the third hour, the whole show was ramped up. Fascination Street, Lullaby, Friday I Love You, and ton more songs were belting out. Ultimately, the whole show ran with favorites until about 11pm and then a final closer and goodbye.
I hate to think about it, but when you catch these last shows, you really start thinking this might be the last time you get to hear a band like the Cure live and fully together. That’s already been the case with Depeche Mode and others. I think the best part though was watching my teenagers bobbing to the tunes, singing the same songs I sang at their age and just loving the show.
Kudos to the band for keeping the price down too. $35 for a show like this was an awesome play, especially with the typical ticketing monopolies going on otherwise with other concerts. I even got me a classic concert Cure shirt with all the shows listed for $25. I was expecting some highway robbery of $50 or $60. Classy move, definitely.
Thank you, Cure.
PS - the artwork is AI created. Crazy stuff.