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The Cure "Fires up their Last Tour "
June 2nd, Mountain View, CA
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Roger smith

....The evening's celestial schedule presented a new moon, while down below, the Cure, the minstrels of melancholia, kept the atmosphere in full gloom. The Cure's latest effort, Bloodflowers, has spawned a tour comprised of drear & dolor, misery & mope. Tonight wasn't an exception. The entire band was attired in mourning, monochromatic black which perfectly complimented the night's sullen tone and lead singer Robert Smith's staid decorum.

..... Smith lumbered on-stage and walked to the microphone as if a bayonet were prodding him forward onto a plank hoisted above a raging sea. His weeping-willow hair veiled his face, not allowing the details of his face to be evident, only allowing plaintive voice to be heard. That same quavering voice which has the ability of amplifying his angst. Cure staged a stellar concert that had the crowd on its feet all night, starting with the standing ovation that greeted the English band when it took the stage. Known for dark music and darker lyrics, the band members were all in black. Smith showed up wearing semi-ghoulish white makeup and heavy black eyeliner, plus, of course, his trademark red lipstick and black bird's nest hair. (The crowd was fashionable, too; many wore leather/punkish clothes and hair dyed deep red, vampire purple, burgundy and other colors.) Smith didn't have to say much to get his followers to cheer - "thank you" after a song was usually sufficient. And when he introduced a number by saying it's "from the 'Kiss Me' album" (referring to the 1987 album that made the Cure huge in the U.S.), the crowd roared before Smith even had a chance to name the tune. (It turned out to be the odd "Like Cockatoos," which featured funky tropical-forest percussion sounds.)

........Although Smith is decidedly the center of attention, other members of the Cure deserve honorable mention. Bassist Simon Gallup moved more than anyone else onstage, often bouncing as he played and incessantly roaming around, while guitarist Perry Bamonte made trippy, Pink Floyd-esque sounds on "39" and played a glitter guitar on pop-oriented numbers like "Fascination Street." Drummer Jason Cooper looked like he drove the band on one especially danceable, shake-you-in-your-spot selection, but it was hard to be sure: The Cure used plenty of effects to create their droning, hypnotic mix of beat, rhythm and texture. In fact, keyboardist Roger O'Donnell frequently stood several feet from his instrument (making it obvious that he wasn't playing it), and Gallup and Bamonte occasionally held their axes to the side, also clearly not playing, as if to fully disclose that more music was being produced onstage than there were musicians.

.........Highlights included Robert's rare foray into the brink of the audience, allowing fans to grope, tug, and squeeze whatever of Smith was within their reach. His highly underrated guitar skills were also very apparent throughout the course of the evening as well. During "A Forest", he was given ample time to perform an solo which was clunking, disjointed, and beautifully done. He's a master of weaving simple scales into melodious pieces which further strengthen his lyrics without detracting attention from the mood his words attempt to set. The song "Disintegration" nicely demonstrated a perfect synthesis of Smith's pen and guitar virtuoso. Performing this epic song, he achieved the trademark grieve his lyrics act as the compass to, and contributed to the mood with the sound of a guitar which sounded angrily agitated. Pure brilliance. But so what if the band used backing tracks and other effects?

.........The Cure rocked and sounded lush, full and big while doing it. An interesting sub-theme to the outdoor show was the change from daylight to darkness. The sunshine at the start of the concert didn't necessarily diminish the effectiveness of the band's sometimes somber music, but it did wash out the strobe lights on the show's second number. However, after night fell, a bevy of flashing white lights aided the relentless beat of "100 Years." Dance-club-style lighting revved up the highly rhythmic "A Forest," the show closer. There was an overarching structure to the set list, by the way. The main set began with the first two songs from the "Bloodflowers" album and ended with the last two tracks from it, while the encores were built around loose themes. The second encore, for example, included numbers that Smith said "we don't play very much," like "All Cats Are Grey" and "The Drowning Man." And the third (and final) encore was loaded with such fast-paced, fun tunes as "Lovesong" and "Just Like Heaven." The concert clocked in just shy of the 3-hour mark, lasting right up to Shorelines 10:30 p.m. curfew. Now that shows Smith still has plenty of fire.

(The Cure's set list @ Shoreline Amphitheater) Out of This World, Watching Me Fall, Want, Fascination St., Open, The Loudest Sound, Maybe Someday, Shake Dog Shake, Edge of the Deep Green Sea, In-between Days, The Kiss, Sinking, Prayers For Rain, 100 Years, End, 39, Bloodflowers 1st encore: There is No If, Trust, Plainsong, Disintegration 2nd encore: M, Play For Today, Just Like Heaven, A Forest, Boys Don't Cry, 10:15, Killing an Arab. show was 2 hours and 45 minutes

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By Randy Cohen

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