The Cure were extremely prolific in the 80s, releasing seven albums during the decade, but in the years since their output has tapered off to the point where one might be forgiven for thinking that the band has gone into retirement. Every few years Robert Smith and company make a return, though, and it is perhaps the rarity of these appearances that make it seem like an event when they happen. When the band announced a show at Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, MD, it sold out quickly – quite a feat for a venue with a capacity of over 19,000 – and on the night of the show the excitement in the air was palpable before the band even took to the stage.
Touring without a new release (their most recent album, 4:13 Dream, came out in 2008), the band promised to cover all 37 years of their history, from their first releases in 1979 up through to the present day. In that they technically delivered, but other than two songs – “The End of the World” from their 2004 self-titled album and a new song titled “It Can Never Be the Same” – the entire set drew from their output from 1992 and earlier. Not that anyone was complaining, as this earlier period represents the band’s most popular work and that which everyone had come to hear anyway.
Starting the show off with a pair of songs that start off 1992’s Wish, “Open” and “High,” The Cure began a night in which they showed off the depth of their catalog. Over the course of an 18-song set, they covered a lot of ground – from their 1983 single “The Walk,” to “Just Like Heaven” from 1987’s double album Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me, to “Pictures of You” from 1989’s Disintegration. Particularly heavily featured was the band’s 1985 album, The Head on the Door, with tracks including “A Night Like This,” “Kyoto Song,” “Push,” and “In Between Days.”
When the main set was over, though, the band was hardly finished. They returned for four encores, for a total of an additional 14 songs, nearly doubling the length of the show. “A Forest,” “Lullaby,” “Fascination Street,” “Wrong Number,” “Let’s Go to Bed,” “Close to Me”... the hits just kept on coming, showing just how much of an impact the band has had on the music of the last four decades. As if to hammer home this point, they closed the show off with one of their earliest singles, 1979’s “Boys Don’t Cry.”
What’s next for The Cure? Will they disappear back into obscurity until, a few years from now, they decide it’s time to resurface again? Or do these shows, some of their strongest in years, signal a new renaissance for the band. Based on the strength of the show and their one new track, we can only hope that this is a new beginning. Only time will tell.
Scottish post-punks The Twilight Sad, with whom Robert Smith worked last year (doing a solo cover of their song “There’s a Girl in the Corner” for the b-side of a single release), opened the show.