The Cure

Live shot

Phases & Stages
Photo By Dan Kramer

The Cure

Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, the Woodlands, Houston, Aug. 15

"Yesterday I got so old. ..." The Cure turns 28 this year, positively ancient for a rock band, but about the average age of the thousands on hand for Sunday's Curiosa Festival in Houston, which rounded up a handful of Cure-spawned bands ranging from the unlistenable (Cooper Temple Clause) to the sublime (Interpol) and fed them to the five-headed hydra commandeered by 45-year-old Robert Smith. It's no big mystery why the Cure draws as many people born after 1982's Pornography – from which they drew "The Figurehead," "Siamese Twins," and "One Hundred Years" on Sunday – as before: Few, if any, modern songwriters can dissect the intricacies of love, the infinite variations of anticipation, connection, and separation, the highs and the lows, the way Smith can. It can be as comfortable as the warm, hearthside "Lovesong" or as infuriating as "Disintegration," which closed the main set with the wrenching sensation of watching a nervous breakdown in progress. The other four Cures – all clad in black, bassist Simon Gallup frequently bouncing around like he was in the Clash – matched Smith's lyrical intensity measure for measure, teasing strands of melody from an ocean of sounds that encompassed the pleading synths of "Charlotte Sometimes," spider-web bass of "The Figurehead," and apocalyptic guitar vortex of the new "Us or Them." The Cure often sounds like the end of the world, a topic Smith is evidently fond of, as it appeared in both lovely opener "Plainsong" and new, appealingly chipper "The End of the World." For Smith, the absence of love is the end of the world – or worse. That sentiment threaded the knockout encore of "Pictures of You," "In Between Days," and "Boys Don't Cry" – all except "Lullaby," which drew Smith's biggest grin of the night. After spilling your guts for two solid hours, death by arachnid ingestion is a walk in the park.

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