The Cure at UIC Pavilion June 10, 2016
When I saw The Cure for the first time at Riot Fest 2014, it was one of the greatest moments of my life. I finally witnessed one of my all time favorite bands right in front of my eyes. At the time I wasn’t convinced the band would tour properly again despite what Robert Smith said to the press. So I was stunned when a massive world tour was announced last year. I refreshed, refreshed, refreshed until tickets popped up. I was going to see The Cure again somehow. Initially, the shows felt like ages and ages away. Time somehow flew by and it was time for my Cure filled weekend. And it went even better than I could have ever imagined. I was lucky enough to attend both the Friday and Saturday shows each with their own charm and amazing setlist.
I was too impatient to sit through any other bands, so I skipped Twilight Sad on both nights. I imagine they’re pretty good, since I enjoyed their album, but I knew I couldn’t focus on them with The Cure being so close. After waiting in line for 30 minutes to buy a shirt, yes it took that long, me and my girlfriend found our seats. When the lights first went down on Friday night, my heart went into my stomach as the cheers got louder and louder. They came out one by one: Reeves Gabriel, Jason Cooper, Roger O’Donnell, Simon Gallup, and Robert Smith. I was so excited I couldn’t say anything as if it was my first time seeing them. Any nerves left as soon as they started playing.
Though both nights were amazing, Friday night will always be my favorite. There was the feeling of hearing songs for the first time, a stellar setlist, and having no expectations. I banned myself from looking at setlists from other shows, so I had no idea what they were going to do. Their first song of the night was “Shake Dog Shake.” It’s a staple of many of their shows by this point, but I was ecstatic to hear it since they didn’t play it during their Riot Fest set. It was an appropriate way to kick off the concert especially with the cool, flickering images behind them. But it was the next song that almost broke me. “Kyoto Song” is one of my all time favorite tracks, so I was stunned when I heard those opening bars. I’ve never cried at a concert, but I was damn close to it at that moment. Luckily, the tears never came.
It seemed like Smith was in a Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me mood as they played “Like Cockatoos,” which some of the crowd didn’t seem to like, “The Perfect Girl,” and “All I Want,” where Smith forget most of the words. It wasn’t perfect, but it was still a treat to hear. They also went back earlier in their catalog for highlights “Primary” and “Charlotte Sometimes,” which has never been my favorite song, but I still loved hearing it live. I actually like the live version better than the recorded one. They even surprised me by playing songs “Want” and “Jupiter Crash” from what’s considered their least popular album Wild Mood Swings. Again, awesome to hear live even if the crowd around me didn’t think so.
But the biggest highlight of night one was the first encore. The stage went red and Robert walked up to the mic hold a spinning top. He turned it a couple time before the jarring riff of “The Top” rang out. My jaw dropped when I heard those opening notes. It’s one of the strongest, yet underrated tracks from The Top, so it was unbelievable to hear it live. Listening to Smith wail “please come back/please come back/all of you” gave me fucking chills. Right at that moment I knew something special was happening. They hadn’t played the song in a long time, 32 years in fact. Having them play it in Chicago for just one night made the concert that much more special. And I can’t believe I was there to see it.
Other amazing night one songs include “Exploding Boy,” which Robert introduced by saying “This is what is called the b-side,” “Never Enough,” “Give Me It,” “Doing the Unstuck,” “Friday I’m In Love,” and “From the Edge of the Deep Green Sea.” Some of these songs I heard from their Riot Fest set, but hearing them properly on their own tour was a completely different experience. It was special; they weren’t trying to slay through the hits. Rather they mixed obvious favorites with some deep cuts for rabid Cure fans. With a total of 32 songs played it was an unforgettable night and I’m honored I was one of the lucky ones to attend.
Night one was amazing, but The Cure didn’t disappoint with night two. Right from the beginning the band let you know you were in for something different as their opening song was “Out of This World” from the underrated album Bloodflowers. Surprisingly, this night’s set had other songs from the album including “The Last Day of Summer,” “39,” and “Bloodflowers.” Some of the crowd didn’t seem happy about the choices. I’m not even very familiar with the album only listening to it three times, but considering these are songs they haven’t done in a long time it was another rare treat.
Going to see a band twice in a row, hell even twice on the same tour, can be risky. Will they change things up or is it going to be the same setlist? Luckily, The Cure played almost an entirely different set. As expected, there were some staples like “Pictures of You,” “Lullaby,” “Close to Me,” and “Why Can’t I Be You?” but they didn’t necessarily play them in the same order. And some songs were so infectious that I didn’t mind hearing them again. I had just as much fun hearing “The Walk” on Saturday night as a I did on Friday night. They also played “A Night Like This” and “Fascination Street” on both nights, which got the entire arena singing along. It was awesome to hear a sold-out venue sing songs back at Robert Smith, just thinking about how may people adore this band.
Other highlights include “High,” “The End of the World,” “Closedown,” and “The Caterpillar.” The band also performed two new songs “It Can Never Be the Same” and “Step Into the Light,” which they debuted at the start of the tour. My first impressions? I like them a lot. The first song was kind of slow and beautiful, like a lot of their ballads, while the second was more upbeat and catchy. I can’t wait to hear these songs on their new album (hopefully). New songs are tricky and I honestly didn’t think they’d play them that much on tour, but I’m glad I got to hear them. A song they performed both nights that I never expected to hear live was “Burn” from The Crow soundtrack. I was dumbfounded when Robert pulled out a pan flute and started playing sloppily. I almost didn’t know what was going on. Once I recognized what song they were doing I flipped. It’s one of those great Cure songs that too many don’t seem to talk about, so it was beyond amazing to hear it live. It’s definitely one of my favorite moments from both shows.
The best moment of this night was when the lights went low, the stage turned green, the opening bard of “A Forest” rang out. All you could hear were cries of “YES!” from the crowd. It was fucking awesome to hear the song live where Smith held some notes, showing he still has powerful vocals. One of the best parts of the show is when the band turned the arena into a dance party. Everyone screamed and started dancing in the aisles when they played “Hot Hot Hot!!!” This has never been my favorite Cure song, but hearing it live is a completely different experience. Even Bob Smith look like he was having a good time while singing it. “Wrong Number” was also good fun to hear especially when Smith let out a huge “Hellllooooo!” near the end. Sadly, the band couldn’t play forever and ended both nights with the classic “Boys Don’t Cry.” Personally, I was hoping they would end with something else for night two, but I didn’t mind hearing it twice since it’s a fun song to dance to.
Though I was lucky enough to catch The Cure at their Riot Fest set, seeing them at their own show is a different experience entirely. For one thing they have more room to pull out deep cuts, which they did on each night. I was pleased how much they switched up the setlist each night making it feel like two completely different shows. No matter which night you went to, you were guaranteed a stellar performance. They sounded amazing on both nights. Right as the show started I got chills at how amazing Robert Smith still sounds. He sounded so good, there were times I was just grooving to the music I forgot the band were in front of me. Smith was also charming and playful pulling off his dance moves that made everyone cheer. He bantered with the crowd more on the first night where he talked about how he “speaks fucking clearly” and trying to find the balance between performing songs the band want to, but making sure the fans will enjoy it too. On night two, he walked around each corner of the stage to say goodbye and as the crowd waved and cheered he gestured his arm as if to say “Aw, shucks! Stop it!” As usual Simon Gallup was dancing and strutting his stuff. The best part was when he and Robert would play together in each other’s faces. These were two legends on stage having a blast! And like that The Cure were gone.
Both shows were amazing. Sure, they didn’t play songs I really wanted to hear, but I was ecstatic with all they played. The only bad thing about the show was UIC itself. Unlike the Cage the Elephant show, it had little to do with the sound. Instead it was the heat. On the weekend the band played it was really hot in Chicago. How did UIC treat this? By not turning on the air. I’m not sure if they did the first night, but they didn’t the second night, which may have been part of why the band only did 28 songs. By the end of the night, my clothes were soaked through. As I said last time I hope I never have to return to UIC Pavilion for another concert.
Despite this, both shows were absolutely amazing. I can honestly say they’re the best shows I’ve ever been to. Once it was over, it was hard to get back to reality and get back to work. How can you top a weekend like that? The Cure are amazing performers and are really pulling out all the stops on this tour. They’ve been doing so many deep cuts, rarities, and b-sides it made me wonder whether Smith would announce retirement at the end. Hopefully, the announcement will just be a new album. Whatever it is I’m more than happy I got to spend the weekend with The Cure. It’s something I’ll never forget and similar to the end of Riot Fest, something I want to experience again really soon.