The Cure Romances Austin
Friday (the 13th) I’m in love
By Tim Stegall,
10:45AM, Mon. May 16, 2016
Biggest surprise of the Cure’s Friday the 13th stand at the Frank Erwin Center? Robert Smith smiled. The enduring British outfit’s sole remaining founder – long reputed as one of rock’s most morose figures – managed several grins across the band’s three-hour performance on Red River.
First time back in Austin since a pair of headlining ACL Fest weekends in 2013, Smith even joked occasionally. At one point, he teased out a few bars of a mock folk song after donning an acoustic guitar emblazoned with a large star.
“Sorry, I guess Austin’s getting to me,” he cracked.
Smith, 57, clearly had fun, leading three longtime Cure members and veteran David Bowie guitarist Reeves Gabrels through a career-spanning set list designed to delight the most obsessive fan. A total of 33 songs resounded, ranging from the group’s most massive hits (“Just Like Heaven,” “Friday I’m In Love,” “Pictures of You”), early classics (“Boys Don’t Cry,” “A Forest,” “Shake Dog Shake”), B-sides (“Doing the Unstuck,” “The Exploding Boy,” the latter performed for the first time since 1985), and deep cuts and album tracks galore. 1985’s The Head on the Door and 1989’s Disintegration got particularly strong play, with five songs featured from the former and seven from the latter.
Robert Smith surprise number two: He appeared rudely healthy, far more fit and trim than he’s appeared in ages, belying his trademark death mask makeup. Bassist Simon Gallup, the second longest-serving Cure member, looked as if he was auditioning to take Paul Simonon’s place in the Clash circa London Calling: Black pompadour piled high, red bandanna tied around his neck above a sleeveless black button-down shirt revealing tattoo-riddled arms, and tight black jeans and engineering boots. Hopping around throwing classic Simonon shapes, Gallup proved the most entertaining stage presence in the band.
Two new songs, “Step Into the Light” and ”It Can Never Be the Same,” were quietly unveiled across the four lengthy encores. Drummer Jason Cooper thumped expertly and steadily at the back, demonstrating impressive dancefloor R&B. Keyboardist Roger O’Donnell laid down synth-heavy washes perfect for the Eighties-vintage material. Smith occasionally took on a guitar tone reminiscent of an acoustic piano, while Gabrels hopped across one of the largest pedal boards likely built, occasionally earning a withering glare from Smith when a lead flashed too Eighties metal shred-tacular.
“The Cure are what love sounds like,” a friend posted on Facebook afterwards. They certainly romanced Austin.
Annotated set list, Frank Erwin Center, 5.13.16Intro “Out of This World” (Bloodflowers, 2000: first performance since 2008; first performance of any Bloodflowers song since 2009) “Pictures of You” (single, Disintegration, 1989) “Closedown” (Disintegration, 1989) “A Night Like This” (The Head on the Door, 1985) “All I Want” (Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me, 1987) “Push” (The Head on the Door, 1985) “Last Dance” (Disintegration, 1989) “Lovesong” (Disintegration, 1989) “Just Like Heaven” (single, Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me, 1987) “This Twilight Garden” (B-side) “Lullaby” (single, Disintegration, 1989) “Fascination Street” (single, Disintegration, 1989) “Screw” (The Head on the Door, 1985) “The End of the World” (The Cure, 2004) “Want” (Wild Mood Swings, 1996) “Us or Them” (The Cure, 2004) “The Hungry Ghost” (4:13 Dream, 2008) “Prayers for Rain” (Disintegration, 1989) “Bloodflowers” (Bloodflowers, 2000; first performance since 2008) Encore: “Step Into the Light” (new song) “Shake Dog Shake” (The Top, 1984) “Never Enough” (single) “Wrong Number” (single) Encore 2: “Hot Hot Hot!!!” (single, Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me, 1987) “Close to Me” (single, The Head on the Door, 1985) “The Exploding Boy” (B-side; first performance since 1985) “In Between Days” (The Head on the Door, 1985) “Doing the Unstuck” (Wish, 1992) “Friday I’m in Love” (single, Wish, 1992) Encore 3: “Burn” (The Crow soundtrack, 1994) “It Can Never Be the Same” (new song) Encore 4: “A Forest” (Seventeen Seconds, 1980) “Boys Don’t Cry” (Seventeen Seconds, 1980)