The torture finally ended for the Cure’s Minnesota fans — or, rather, it finally began again.
A band that channeled the distress of youth and affliction of romance better than anyone in the 1980s, the pioneering British alt-rockers delivered their first Twin Cities performance in 20 years at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul on Tuesday night. At certain points in the long-awaited concert, it felt like the show itself was going to last for the next 20 years.
With frontman Robert Smith leading the charge in his trademark poofy hair and pouty lips, the group played a nearly three-hour, 35-song concert, as it has done throughout its current U.S. tour. Of all the Cure tours elsewhere over the past two decades, at least this was the one Minnesota fans would most want to catch.
Tuesday’s 12,000 attendees had to wait a little longer for the excitement to come to fruition. The show started with two extra-moody, plodding deep cuts, “Open” and “Alt.end,” soon followed by the quirky 1983 oldie “The Walk” — three of the most boring numbers all night. All the seated fans may have wondered if they’d really been missing out.
As quickly as Smith appears to apply his lipstick, though, the momentum abruptly changed with a barrage of up-tempo crowd pleasers. The triumphal charger “Push” led into the jangly late-’80s hits “In Between Days” and “Just Like Heaven.” One song later came the elegant classic “Pictures of You,” which quite simply sounded perfect. Just like that, fans were in heaven.
And there was still more than two hours to go. The rest followed a similar pattern: The band would push into some of its most experimental and edgy territory (no doubt thrilling its most devout fans) before bouncing back onto familiar, cozy ground.
After the heavy downer “The End of the World” and freaky “Dressing Up,” for instance, came the light and lilting “Lullaby” and the pulsating hit “Fascination Street.” Then the band went back into the dark with a swirl of smoke and a backdrop of Vietnam War-era photos for the reverberating 1982 nugget “One Hundred Years.” And so on.
With many lineup changes over the years but a persistent lack of personality, the Cure never has been a reliable live band. It was tight and consistent if a bit mechanical Tuesday.
Despite working three-hour shifts in recent weeks, the 57-year-old Smith held up well all night. He delivered some of his most dramatic vocals during the four — yep, four! — encores, which included the stormy new song “It Can Never Be the Same” and such heavy dirges as “Never Enough” and “Burn.”
New guitarist Reeves Gabrels, a David Bowie sideman, didn’t waver much from his blueprinted parts but played with fiery precision. Longtime bassist Simon Gallup’s swinging, low-hanging bass was a familiar sight for the crowd — the overwhelming majority of which was old enough to have driven themselves to the last Cure concert in town.
Younger fans wouldn’t have the attention span to sit through Tuesday’s morose but ultimately marvelous marathon anyway.
Here's the Cure's full megasized set list from Tuesday night:
· A Night Like This
· The Walk
· In Between Days
· Just Like Heaven
· The Snakepit
· Pictures of You
· The Perfect Girl
· The End of the World
· Dressing Up
· Fascination Street
· From the Edge of the Deep Green Sea
· One Hundred Years
· It Can Never Be the Same
· Shake Dog Shake
· If Only Tonight We Could Sleep
· Charlotte Sometimes
· A Forest
· Never Enough
· Wrong Number
· Hot Hot Hot!
· The Caterpillar
· Let’s Go to Bed
· Close to Me
· Why Can’t I Be You?
· Boys Don’t Cry