June 10th, 2008

Tex-Arcana

The Cure At Toyota Center, June 9, 2008

In the Soundtrack to My Life, the Cure don't actually show up in the angst-ridden teenaged years volume.  Nor do they show up in my too-cool-for-school early 20s.  That's because I never really went through either of those stages.  The first half of my teens was largely spent without much awareness of music, and the latter half were the beginning of Theron - The Metal Years, Part 1.  After that, I pretty well moved into the period covered by the CD, "SCA Punk" (as opposed to "Ska Punk" or "Skate Punk").

It's not that I was unaware of the Cure.  Anyone with MTV in the 80s was likely acquainted with their music on some level.  But they didn't impact me at the time.  San Antonio was Metal Town USA - South, and Perry, my one friend who was into New Wave, etc., wasn't around anymore to put me on the right track.

As a result, I really didn't get into them until I met Jane, in the spring of '92.  Wish  had just come out, and she was listening the hell out of it.  As any properly devoted boyfriend does, I listened as well.  And then started listening to some of her older stuff.  And discovered there were all these songs I'd heard before and liked and they were all by the same band.  So, unlike some of you who've been fanatic about Mr. Smith and company since god was a corporal, I'm a relative new adopter, having only been a fan for the past sixteen years or so.

So, with that out of the way, let's talk about last night's show.  It was originally scheduled for last October, but conflicts with the record company over the scheduling of the still unreleased next album pushed the tour back to the spring.  All the same, it was worth the wait.

A few words about the opening act are in order.  They were called 65 Days of Static.  Wikipedia informs me they're of a musical subgenre called "post-rock" or "math rock."  I suppose the older appellation "shoegazer music" would fit them pretty well too.  They're strictly instrumental, and once we realized they weren't going to sing, they weren't too bad.  Their drummer in particular was quite talented.  Not really my thing, but definitely OK.

They played for half an hour, then the inevitable long set-up for the Cure began.  And went on.  And on.  And on.  The music mix they played while the prep continued looped three times.  Seriously.  It took nearly an hour and you'd think they could've stuck someone's iPod into the mixing board or something to give us a little more variety.

At last, right about 8:50 PM the mix stopped and the houselights went down.

Here's the set list:

Intro (Adagio For Strings)
Out Of This World
Want
Fascination Street
A Night Like This
The End of the World
Lovesong
A Boy I Never Knew
Pictures Of You
Lullaby
Maybe Someday
From the Edge of the Deep Green Sea
The Perfect Boy
Kyoto Song
Hot Hot Hot
The Only One
The Blood
Sleep When I'm Dead
Push
How Beautiful You Are
Inbetween Days
Just Like Heaven
A Letter To Elise
Us Or Them
One Hundred Years
Bloodflowers

1st encore:
Plainsong
Disintegration

2nd encore:
Boys Don't Cry
Jumping Someone Else's Train
Grinding Halt
10:15 Saturday Night
Killing An Arab

3rd encore:
A Forest

Thirty three songs.  The show lasted almost three hours on the dot.  They kicked our asses.  I'm still dragging and am, at best, able to convey less than coherent impressions and memories from the show.

This was the first Cure line up in practically forever without keyboards.  It's a welcome change.  The new arrangements that shift the work from keyboards to guitars add tremendously to the old songs without really taking away much of anything.  It also serves to remind us all what incredible guitarists Robert and Porl are.

Jane asked where all the goths were.  And there seemed to be a definite shortage of P.I.B.s last night.  By the end of the night, I decided they got day jobs and expressed my suspicion that the women in front of us (who resembled a PTA Girl's Night Out when they came in, only to scream madly and dance like maniacs during much of the old stuff) probably all had more than a passing acquaintance with Black #1 and too much eyeliner when they were younger.

The only word I can use to describe Robert's stage presence is "adorable."  He always looks simultaneously embarrassed and greatly humbled by the crowd reaction.  It's very self-effacing and endearing.

His accent is also still basically impenetrable when he speaks.  I couldn't understand a bloody thing he said during the show, though I found someone's liveblog that made it comprehensible.  His singing voice, however, was in terrific form.

They claimed that last night's performance of "The Boy I Never Knew" (a new song) was the first and only time they're playing it in the US on this tour.  Cool beans.

I honestly don't know how Simon plays that bass slung so low on his body.  Also, the new arrangements mean you can hear how the basslines really carry a lot of their best songs.

Until last night, I'd never realized how much "Plainsong" sounds like something off of Joy Division's Closer, but with Robert on vocals instead of Ian Curtis.

There was a bit of pre-recorded cheatery during the first encore, as they used an extra looped bassline, so Simon could play the melody bits.

If Robert Smith looks like a sad clown on stage, Porl Thompson was some sort of deranged mime.

I tried counting Porl's guitars and gave up after fourteen or so.  The man sometimes switched rigs in mid-song, but as good as he is, I shan't complain.

When they played "Inbetween Days," I swear the entire building started dancing.  I refuse to believe anyone was still in their seat.  The fact that it led straight into "Just Like Heaven" kept the place jumping.

The second encore could've been subtitled, "Some of you might have heard we were once considered a punk band.  Here's why."  "Killing an Arab" was just amazing.  It was hard and fast and raw and in your face.

About halfway through A Forest, Porl packed it in, leaving just Robert, Simon, and Jason on stage.  Robert added a bunch of impromptu lyrics and he and Simon had a bit of an extended jam before bringing it back to the main melody and winding up in the traditional manner.

Someone actually complimented my Bauhaus shirt on the way out.  To be honest, whenever I wear it, I'm reminded of a bit from "The Venture Brothers."

If I think of something more coherent, I'll post it later.
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