The Cure are part of an elite class of bands that can play epic, three-hour shows without boring their fans. It helps to have a catalogue of songs – including tons of hits – that dates back forty years. Following a Cure tour is akin to a sporting event, as the setlists change every single night, you never know what you are going to get, and, in the case of the band’s massive world tour, fans are getting sets packed with classics as well as rarities, b-sides and songs that haven’t been played in decades. On Friday night The Cure made their third stop on this tour at Austin’s Frank Erwin Center arena, their first appearance in the capital of Texas since headlining the Austin City Limits Festival in 2013. For three hours fans would be treated to a set that did indeed feel just like a dream.
Kicking things off on a mellow note with the dreamy “Out Of This World”, the band wasted no time in getting to their biggest hits as they followed it up with a version of “Pictures of You” that was accentuated with Simon Gallup’s blazing bassline and an moody flourish of chimes. 1989’s Disintegration would make up the bulk of the setlist, and fans rejoiced as they were greeted by the swelling, synth-driven jam of “Closedown”. They jumped further back in time with “A Night Like This” off 1985’s The Head On The Door” – which filled every inch of the arena with a soaring rock and roll solo from Reeves Gabrels – and an explosive take on “All I Want” off 1987’s Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me. “Push” was one of the more jubilant, energetic moments of the night and was a nice high before the beautifully sinister “Last Dance”. The band drove the audience into a frenzy of screaming and singing along with two of their biggest hits, “Lovesong” and “Just Like Heaven”, played back to back with no break in between. Despite the haunting lyrics and creepy-crawly imagery of “Lullaby”, Robert Smith seemed to be having the most fun as he demonstrated his dance moves before playing the song. “Fascination Street” would follow with a carnival of synth, guitar and thunderous bass.
After so many years as one of the biggest bands in the world, it’s impossible to imagine The Cure ever playing in a smaller room. Their sound is huge, their songs timeless, and it all feels made for arenas. Robert Smith’s voice is so powerfully dramatic and even on this night in 2016 it sounded as if it hasn’t aged a day, especially on the sprawling epic “Bloodflowers” (the band’s first time playing the song since 2008). Only a band like The Cure could manage to play four separate encores and not piss off their audience every time they leave the stage again. The first of these saw the performance of new song “Step Into the Light”, and later they would treat the audience to another new song with the gloomy “It Can Never Be The Same”. Between those there were appearances of songs that hadn’t been played regularly for years, like the spunky rocker “Never Enough” and the b-side “The Exploding Boy”. It was during the encores that the band also chose to throw in a few more of their lighter hits, like the funky pop tune “Hot Hot Hot!”, “Close To Me”, and of course “Friday I’m In Love” since it was Friday the 13th. “Burn” would feature Smith adding a touch of flute, and he would soon after take one of his finest guitar solos of the night during “A Forest”.
As they seem to be doing on other stops on this current tour, The Cure closed out the evening on a high with one of their biggest hits of all time, “Boys Don’t Cry”, and even after the three hours the crowd still had the energy to dance with delight, showing that the music of this post-punk band from England hasn’t aged a day.