Two concerts in two nights in Montreal is unheard of for The Cure. The venerable British group offered Friday at the Bell Center one of these marathon concerts which distinguish it and showed that, if it is no longer at the height of its creativity, it remains at the height of its charisma.
The Cure’s latest album of new songs is far behind. It came out 15 years ago. In theory, the band had no new tracks to champion, only to do some deft and compelling wealth management. What was done.
Except that The Cure does not do things like the others. It is also about the only group to have stood up to the giant Ticketmaster so that the price of tickets for its concerts remains affordable. They’re also the kind of band that can kick off a show with an unreleased track. And slip four or five others into the program without losing your room.
The Cure is reportedly planning a new album by the end of the year. The rumor also announced it for 2022, so we’ll see… What we can say, on the other hand, relying on what we heard from the news on Friday at the Bell Center, is that it could be in the spirit of Disintegration. Some of the new songs indeed take up ideas and sounds heard on this cult disc whose magic Robert Smith and his band were already trying to recapture with 4:13 (2008) and even Bloodflowers (2000).
First part ? Yes of course. Anyone who has ever seen The Cure perform, especially since the early 2000s, knows that the British band give really generous gigs. It is not uncommon for him to play more than two and a half hours and put on around thirty songs. This was the case again on Friday.
Entering the stage around 8:45 p.m., the group played until 11:30 p.m…. Long enough to line up most of its big hits (including Lovesong and Pictures of You at the start of the concert), but also to satisfy those who know The Cure well beyond the obvious. In particular, we were treated to a powerful version of Burn (from the soundtrack of the film The Crow), rarities like Push or Kyoto Song from The Head on the Door, Three Imaginary Boys, Shake Dog Shake, At Night and also a stunning version of From the Edge of the Deep Green Sea, one of the few Cure songs where there is a real guitar solo.
There was already enough to have chills. Which obviously multiplied at the time of emblematic songs like Play for Today (with the crowd singing in chorus, as always), the essential and bewitching A Forest, also played during the first hour and welcomed in a real delirium.
To see The Cure in 2023 is of course to see a band whose great years are far behind. However, it is also to see a group that remains despite everything at the height of its charisma. Robert Smith almost always sounds like 30 years ago. By sometimes adapting the melodic line he sings, but almost without failing and always being convincing.
It was also quite touching to see him start Pictures of You alone with bassist Simon Gallup, his oldest companion, whose eclipse announced for the summer of 2021 will fortunately have been brief. We would have really missed his unique look on stage.
Hearing Plainsong during the first encore was stunning: unexpected and fabulously delivered, with that characteristic watery slowness of Disintegration, which remains one of The Cure’s greatest records. Hearing the epic Disintegration, precisely, immediately after, it was just as grandiose and unexpected.
Robert Smith, Simon Gallup, Jason Cooper, Roger O’Donnell, Perry Bamonte and Reeves Gabriel left the stage a second time around 10:45 p.m., after two hours of performance. It wasn’t over, of course. They came back in front of a boosted Bell Center for the final blow, a long encore during which they played other essentials like Lullaby, Six Different Ways, The Walk (it danced from the floor to the bleachers), Friday I’m in Love (delirium again), Close to Me and Just Like Heaven. It ended as it should, in the apotheosis, on Boys Don’t Cry.
The Cure plays again Saturday at the Bell Centre. And we can be sure that a substantial portion of the repertoire will have changed. Which should satisfy the die-hard fans who have had the idea to afford a double.