Emotional Catharsis and Unforgettable Hits: The Cure’s “Songs of the Lost World Tour” Review+Photos: The Cure and Twilight Sad at The Blossom Center 6/11/23
CUYAHOGA, OH- A gloomy, drizzly sky loomed above as Cure fans from all over came together at the Blossom Music Center to celebrate the band and their music. The Shows Of The Lost World tour has been a hot ticket since it was announced earlier this year, proving the staying power of their illustrious career. Given the time that is currently seeing a resurgence of post-punk/gothic icons hitting the road, i.e., Siouxsie playing her first shows in years, the Love and Rockets reunion, the Sisters of Mercy reunion, and the Mission UK’s return to US soil later this year, 2023, in my eyes, it is deemed “the year of the goth.”
The controversy that stemmed from the tour announcement saw Robert Smith take on the concert ticket giant Live Nation and Ticketmaster, fighting for the fans by keeping ticket prices low and even securing a minimal refund for fans as TM raised their ridiculous fees to compensate. Robert Smith seems to be a fan of his fans and understands their plight as well. He even came in with lower merch prices that currently see $40 for a T-shirt as an industry standard, selling the Cure’s at a mere $25 instead.
How could you not love him? He’s written some of the most relatable music over their 40-plus-year career, for one. He has never changed or conformed to anything other than being himself, whatever that may look like at the time. Also, with no new album released, even though he’s been teasing the long-awaited “Songs of the Lost World” for a few years now, he staged a full tour in support of it. Hopefully soon, we will be able to hear it in its entirety.
Scottish indie-rock band The Twilight Sad opened the show with an energetic 8-song set. Known for their hauntingly beautiful soundscapes and led by James Graham, their enigmatic lead singer with his impressive interpretive dance moves, the band took the stage bathed in single light scapes, which added to the intensity of their performance. Their set was a strong testament to their level of musicianship, showcasing their ability to create powerful music. They set the mood for the evening, and the crowd was instantly drawn in by their intriguing sound.
Graham, along with Andy MacFarlane, Johnny Docherty, Brenden Smith, and Grant Hutchinson, gave energetic renditions of “Kill it In the Morning,” “The Wrong Car,” “There’s a Girl on The Corner,” “I’m not Here (Missing Face),” and “Let’s Get Lost.” The sky opened up as a deluge of rain poured down heavily on the already damp concertgoers, to which Graham could be heard saying, “Fuck the rain,” in his heavy Scottish accent. The audience didn’t seem deterred by it anyhow.
The heavy rains and some lightning that caused a brief power outage delayed the show, even to the point that the lawn seats were temporarily evacuated and the pavilion seats were advised to shelter in place. As we waited it out for about 40 minutes, the rain subsided, and we got the all clear for the show to continue. Ironically, the pre-show music was a thunderstorm that played over the speakers with little light flashes simulating lightning and had the rumble of thunder. Appropriate considering buckets of water poured violently from the sky once again. But as the lights dimmed, signaling that the Cure was about to take the stage.
Smith and crew, which currently includes former David Bowie/Tin Machine guitarist Reeves Gabrels, co-founding keyboardist Roger O’Donnell, drummer Jason Cooper, returning guitarist/keyboardist Perry Bamonte, and the longest-tenured member bassist Simon Gallup, walked slowly around the stage, pausing at each step to make eye contact as Smith greeted the crowd deliberately, as if to say, “Hello, we are happy you are here,” making the show seem very intimate, as it would be grandiose.
They opened their set with a new song entitled “Alone,” which one can assume is part of the yet-to-be-released album “Songs of the Lost World” that Smith has been teasing for a few years now. Given their vast career, they could’ve very easily just stayed on the nostalgia train, playing only certified hits and fan favorites, but the Cure has always been a trailblazer in regard to their live shows. Within the first five songs, you knew this was going to be a special night. We got two songs right away from the Disintegration album: “Pictures of You,” which made me chuckle as I was taking pictures of the band, and “Lovesong.” They played another new song, a piano-led ballad called “And Nothing is Forever,” followed by “If Only Tonight We Could Sleep.”
The Cure has been known for their incredible production and lighting, with video screens behind them. Each song was accompanied by a wall of color, creating a mesmerizing visual experience that perfectly complemented the music. Robert’s voice sounded as rich and powerful as ever as he and the band delivered a 2-hour and 37-minute set, boasting 29 songs, including the big crowd-pleasers everyone remembers, such as “Burn,” from the Crow soundtrack, which showcases drummer Jason Cooper’s jackhammering drive. Highlights for me were the 6 songs we got from the “Head on The Door” album, which is by far my favorite Cure album top to bottom. The rarely played “Kyoto Song” was an especially nice treat, followed directly by “A Night Like This,” in which Gabrels replaced the saxophone solo with a great, squealing guitar solo, and “Push,” which opened the door for a more raucous energy at this point.
The band did not disappoint as they kept the energy level high with two songs from Seventeen Seconds: the incredibly danceable “A Play For Today” and an extended version of “A Forest,” which Smith gave a passionate vocal and ended with a guitar duel with the always-animated Gallup. The longest-tenured member, other than Smith, not only brings the low-end glue to keep the songs together, but he is also pretty fun to watch as he trolls the stage, interacting with his bandmates. Bamonte, also a longstanding member, provides a steady rhythm for Reeves’ leads and soundscapes. Reeves is the newest member of the band, I believe, but he adds so much to the already intricate compositions that when Smith joins in on his own guitar, they create an atmospheric river of tones. The band is rounded out by the stoic keyboardist, Roger O’Connell, who adds intoxicating synth parts and melodies that are the essence of the Cure’s beauty. “Shake Dog Shake,” another personal favorite of mine, sounded phenomenal as the screens showed the band in a ghostly silhouette, adding such depth to the song. It reminded me of the cover of their live album concert that I had on cassette back forever ago. They ended the first set with another new song appropriately called “Endsong.”
The first encore saw a mood change with a string of more subdued but no less passionate songs focusing on darker themes, as expected from a band like the Cure, who drew from their extensive catalog of 13 albums to date and included 4 new songs. This segment of music included “I Can Never Say Goodbye,” which was written for Smith’s lost brother, and “Plainsong,” “It Can Never Be the Same,” “Want,” and the crowd favorite “Disintegration.” Robert’s voice had been magnificent all night, displaying a range of emotion few can match.
The band packed the second encore with some of their biggest and poppiest hits, including “Lullaby” and the longest string of uptempo tunes. The waltz-time “Six Different Ways” and the only song from the Japanese Whispers album, the dance-rocker “The Walk,” saw Smith doing some lite fancy dancing to the crowd’s delight. I was completely ecstatic when I heard the drum intro to their giddy hit, “Why Can’t I Be You?” I love that song so much. I remember when the video came out on MTV with Robert Smith in his bear costume. The song just makes me happy. The hits kept coming with “Close To Me” and an exuberant “Friday I’m In Love,” with an ebullient vocal from Smith. “In Between Days,” “Just Like Heaven,” and the show-ending “Boys Don’t Cry” made the sogginess of the day seem like a distant memory, even as I walked in my squishy socks.
To say the show was more than satisfying is probably the least best descriptor that I could come up with. It was emotional, ethereal, cathartic, and so many other words that I can’t think of right now. But it’s easy to see why they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. This show, to me, was such an emotional experience. I danced, poorly by myself, sang aloud to most of the songs, and felt my heart soar with elation, though I was hoping for “Charlotte Sometimes,” “10:15 on a Saturday Night,” or “Killing An Arab.” But I was definitely happy with the setlist we got. The Shows of the Lost World tour runs until July 1st with the final show in Miami. Then the band will headline the Sunday night lineup at Riot Fest in Chicago. Tickets seem to be popping up on Ticketmaster the days leading up to the shows, so keep an eye out if you’re keen to go.”