There would be no support act for The Cure’s return to Adelaide as the penultimate gasp of a fruitful run of Splendour In The Grass sideshows – Robert Smith and co. had simply too much ground to cover for those sorts of frivolities. What followed was an exhaustive but far from exhausting three hour long tour through several decades’ worth of material.
At first much of The Cure’s onstage energy was provided by bassist Simon Gallup, who bounced across the stage mounting foldbacks and striking rock poses. Soon Smith also began to shuffle around as longtime keyboard player Roger O’Donnell, drummer Jason Cooper and Bowie’s former Tin Machine comrade Reeves Gabrels helped deliver an energetic and faithful exploration of the band’s vast back catalogue. Glistening 80s guitars and big rock drums brought the upbeat chart hits to life, while the winding, broody lines of Primary and Disintegration era cuts like Last Dance added some depth. Even at 57 Smith’s voice sounds as sharp as ever, retaining the same vitality as his tunes. Smith was particularly buoyant throughout the show, pausing briefly to joke that he had earlier entertained the idea of not playing Friday, I’m In Love to the Friday night crowd. For the band the novelty is probably much the same as the dentist who hears the same joke from their “two-thirty” appointment every single day, but the crowd lapped the song up. The only other real piece of banter was an acknowledgement of his lack of idle conversation across the whole tour, citing an inability to think of “anything funny to say”. Did anyone mind? No, not at all. He had already expressed himself in far more profound ways as he and the band worked through both crowd-pleasing anthems like Just Like Heaven and In Between Days and fan favourites like Pictures of You and One Hundred Years. For the first of four encores Smith announced a move away from the “pop” stuff with a rockier run bookended by It Can Never Be The Same and A Forest. Even then he was far from done, returning again and again to lovingly deliver cuts like Lullaby, The Love Cats and Close To Me. Returning to the stage for a final time, Smith declared that due to time and energy constraints this really was the last song, and that we’d best make the most of it (“I know I will,” he said). Well, four songs later they closed the set with early number Boys Don’t Cry, performed at a noticeably slower tempo than the one Smith’s younger self cut to tape in 1979. But then again, we can cut them a bit of slack after three solid hours with little interruption. It’s easy to wonder what keeps some legendary bands going after several decades. Money? A desire to feel relevant? A community consensus that Keith Richards must never be left to his own devices? We are left with no such uncertainty after watching Smith play 34 songs cherry picked from throughout his career. The Cure live in 2016 is a joyous and life-affirming affair, both for the audience and evidently for Smith himself, the last person to leave the stage. Photos: Andreas Heuer