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Concert Review: The Cure in Miami

[Note: The Week Ahead will run on Tuesday this week.]

(Photos by Ron Elkman)

If The Cure never tours Florida again, its local fans received a remarkably generous send-off in Miami last night: a legacy tour of no fewer than 34 songs, four encores and three solid hours of music, with a set list divided between singles, deep tracks and rarities.

My perspective for this review is limited: The band allowed no press seats, so I was sequestered to the lawn of Bayfront Park (our ace photographer, Ron Elkman, did receive the access to get the excellent images accompanying this review). But even though Robert Smith, Simon Gallup, Roger O’Donnell, Jason Cooper and Reeves Gabrels appeared as blurry people-sized shapes on the amphitheater stage, the Cure’s music lost none of its urgency, depth and variety. The band sounded record-perfect, and Smith’s voice hasn’t aged a day, even if he occasionally seemed to wander off-mic.

The set list changes nightly—with a few standbys, like “Lovesong” and “Pictures of You,” graciously performed at every concert—and the band developed animated graphics to be projected on the giant screen upstage that captured the songs’ ambience: clouds opening on a vibrant blue sky for the joyous “High;” kaleidoscopic flowers blooming on the slow, druggy “If Only Tonight We Could Sleep;” a majestic rocky landscape for “Just Like Heaven.” During the exuberant “Push,” an onstage camera beamed a live shot of the swelling, sold-out crowd’s sea of hands, energizing a show that had been, until that point, slow to catch fire. Even the shadow dancers on the Inter-Continental Building towering over the amphitheater seemed to be grooving to the beat.

Smith spoke sparely over the course of the evening, as is customary, and because of my location, I missed most of his mumbled communiqués. Prior to a surprising four-song encore of deep cuts entirely pulled from the band’s underrated masterpiece “Pornography,” Smith remarked, and I’m paraphrasing, that certain fans will be thrilled while others will be scratching their heads. The band then performed the brooding “Cold” and “A Strange Day,” which I haven’t seen on other set lists.

You could make a laundry list of the titles the Cure didn’t play Sunday night: “Friday I’m in Love,” “A Forest,” “The Lovecats,” “Primary,” “The Caterpillar,” “Doing the Unstuck” and on and on; perhaps ticket-buyers to tonight’s sold-out performance will hear some of them. And maybe it’s a fair complaint that with the exception of a seemingly slowed-down version of “Boys Don’t Cry” capping the evening, the group played nothing from its inchoate post-punk years.

But the breadth of the Cure’s musicality was on vivid display. It’s hard to believe the same band that produced the martial goth-rock of “The Hanging Garden” also gave us the baroque pop of “The Perfect Girl,” the party funk of “Hot Hot Hot!!!” and the scraping industrial rock of “alt.end.” For this humble viewer/listener, there was no stronger argument for the Cure’s continued relevance than the harrowing intensity of “One Hundred Years,” a nightmarish document of genocide supplemented by a photomontage of war atrocities projected behind the band. Its blast-furnace power was enough to raise the hair on my arms, even from the wilderness of the lawn. Ultimately, I’ll take that visceral feeling over the surface pleasures of “Friday I’m in Love” anytime.

SET LIST

Open

Kyoto Song

A Night Like This

Push

In Between Days

Pictures of You

Closedown

High

The Walk

Sleep When I’m Dead

If Only Tonight We Can Sleep

This Twilight Garden

Lovesong

Just Like Heaven

Trust

From the Edge of the Deep Green Sea

alt. end

End

ENCORE 1

Cold

A Strange Day

The Hanging Garden

One Hundred Years

ENCORE 2

Piggy in the Mirror

Never Enough

Fascination Street

Burn

ENCORE 3

Lullaby

The Perfect Girl

Hot Hot Hot!!!

Wrong Number

ENCORE 4

Let’s Go to Bed

Close to Me

Why Can’t I Be You?

Boys Don’t Cry