The Cure Shine at the Hollywood Bowl: Review

Robert Smith took to the stage on Tuesday night and sang the final notes of The Cure’s “A Night Like This” – in which the 64-year-old goth rock icon promises “I want to change” – over the sold-out Hollywood Bowl .

“The last time we played that,” Smith told the audience, “I was like, ‘Do I really want to change?’

It’s hard to see why he’d do that: almost half a century after the release of the British band’s debut single, The Cure is enjoying a moment coveted by pop stars a third Smith’s age. Tuesday’s overcast performance was the first of three sold-out dates at the Bowl on a tour for which The Cure attempted to keep ticket prices relatively low; Smith’s willingness to do so publicly criticize Ticketmaster — he even got the company to refund fans some of their hated handling fees — has lent him something of a folk-hero vibe on social media, though he’s grown accustomed to being a member of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame to be who introduced the Cure in 2019.

The tour fuels anticipation of a long-promised studio album, The Cure’s first in 15 years; Here the band performed a handful of impressive new songs, including one Smith said had never been performed before. But with a lavish mix of hits and deep cuts spanning nearly three hours, The Cure’s latest live show also feels like expertly crafted fan service — this summer’s black mascara counterpart to Taylor Swift’s Sparkling and dazzling Eras Tour.

The Cure aren’t the only celebrated survivors of their generation of British post-punk and new wave acts. Depeche Mode has been in great shape for years with her strongest LP, and just this past weekend Siouxsie (who Smith once counted among her banshees) made a celebrated return to the American stage at Pasadena’s Cruel World Festival. In November, Kate Bush will follow the Cure and Depeche Mode into the rock hall Thanks in part to the discovery of her old song, “Running Up That Hill,” by young viewers of Netflix’s Stranger Things last year.

Why exactly this stuff seems to be up in the air is, to some degree, due to a fortuitous revelation like this and like HBO’s recent use of Depeche Mode’s “Never Let Me Down Again” in The Last of Us. But there’s also something about this luxuriously sombre music – the way it celebrates the exuberance of misery – that means it keeps attracting new fans. Naturally The idea of ​​Gothic would continue to resonate at a time when teenagers need only pick up the phone to find a reason for their depression.

The Cure’s Simon Gallup and Robert Smith perform at the Hollywood Bowl on Tuesday.

(Gary Coronado/Los Angeles Times)

Headlining the Bowl almost seven years to the day since the Cure last visited — and wearing a black T-shirt advertising defunct Hollywood Star Lanes bowling alley — Smith found himself in oldies like Pictures of You and “Pictures of You” as much emotion as never before. Lovesong,” while soaring his amorous howl over dreamy, intersecting guitar lines. (Though Smith is the only remaining original member of the band, The Cure’s live line-up—guitarists Perry Bamonte and Reeves Gabrels, bassist Simon Gallup, keyboardist Roger O’Donnell, and drummer Jason Cooper—long consists of musicians who with whom he has worked for decades.)

“Charlotte Sometimes” and “Push” were driving rockers riding powerful rhythm section grooves; “Shake Dog Shake” showcased Smith’s childhood fascination with Jimi Hendrix. At times, you could think of The Cure as an emo-psych jam band of sorts, stretching out tunes like “From the Edge of the Deep Green Sea” to find untapped reserves of exuberant melancholy.

The Cure’s new songs were both the most stormy and sentimental of the night, with snappy keyboard licks against synthetic strings reminiscent of Aerosmith’s power ballad phase in the late ’90s; In fact, the group’s most dedicated members believe the seeds of the wildly emotional “Another Happy Birthday,” which Smith says The Cure first played Tuesday, date back to 1997.

As the clock approached the Bowl’s 11pm curfew, Smith and his friends banged out their biggest hits — “Friday I’m in Love,” mad with agony; “In Between Days,” shuffling and funky; “Just Like Heaven,” a mad, passionate fall — before ending with “Boys Don’t Cry,” where the pride Smith still harbors in a sense of vulnerability could bring tears to your eyes.

When it was over, the frontman stayed onstage for a few more minutes, soaking up the audience’s admiration – a renewable resource, it turned out, but one that he shouldn’t waste.

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