Robert Smith

Mixed Up Deluxe – The Cure

Image result for the cure mixed up deluxe

Release Year: 2018

Rating: 7.5/10

In 1990, The Cure wanted to take a break from the bleak nature of Disintegration. To shake off the melancholy, Robert Smith launched a new project: a remix album. Mixed Up not only featured club mixes of Cure songs, it was also a way for fans to get their hands extended mixes without hunting down pricy singles. This year, Smith finally relaunched The Cure’s remaster series and compiled a deluxe edition of this remix album. Surprisingly, I was excited to get my hands on the release despite not being a fan of the original. I wasn’t expecting much, but I actually enjoyed the release more than I expected, but it’s not perfect.

The first disc is a remaster of the 1990 original featuring extended singles and remixes of the band’s biggest hits. There are some solid mixes here like the airy and mellow version of “The Caterpillar” and the jazzy version of “Close To Me,” but most of the songs don’t hold your attention for long. It’s made with a specific audience in mind. If you’re not a fan of lengthy club mixes, like me, the album won’t do much for you. I found songs like “The Walk,” “Lovesong,” and “A Forest” to be too long. They got repetitive after the first four minutes. The drawn out songs make sense in a club setting, but they don’t really translate outside of that if remixes aren’t your thing. Most of the mixes are decent, aside from the generic “In Between Days (Shiver Mix),” but little about them leaves a lasting impact. I found myself getting bored with them and started tuning them out. The updated versions of “Lullaby” and “Fascination Street” are highlights, but the rest of the album is decent at best.

I was looking forward to the second disc featuring rare remixes from 1982- 1990, but these tracks are forgettable. Some of the mixes are random, disjointed, or all over the place. The vocal on “Let’s Go To Bed (Extended Mix 1982)” sounds like it was chopped up and sprinkled randomly throughout the song. It’s annoying to hear Smith’s vocals start and stop abruptly. “Why Can’t I Be You” feels endless with bits of the song stretched out and played on a loop, while Primary (Red Mix 1990)” attempts to turn it into a high energy rock song with bits of weird buzzing noises, but it just doesn’t work. Mixes of “Pictures of You,” “Just One Kiss” and “Just Like Heaven” do nothing interesting expect make the intro and outro longer. Even though I’m not a fan of the original, the mixes on that album are at least decent and has its great moments. Here, all the remixes are uninteresting. They just don’t hit you the way some of the mixes on the previous and the last disc do.

The third disc, Torn Down, is full of new mixes by Smith and is the highlight of this collection. He takes a song from every Cure album and tweaks it just enough to give it a different flavor. “The Drowning Man” is bleaker and darker, “A Strange Day” is more intense with its tribal beats, “A Night Like This” is jazzy and upbeat, and “Three Imaginary Boys” is downright eerie. These mixes feel more focused and concise. They don’t keep going well after you’re bored. And in most cases not much changes. Smith admits he didn’t mess with the songs too much and kept the general feeling of the song. “Shake Dog Shake” sounds more aggressive and angry and “Never Enough” sounds like a clean mix, but otherwise they don’t stray far from the originals. Others may balk at the lack of change, but I found them to be perfect. It puts a different spin on the song and doesn’t feel needlessly long. Smith also goes beyond the singles and mixes tracks like “Cut Here,” “From the Edge of the Deep Green Sea,” and “The Last Day of Summer” for a more diverse listening experience. It’s great to hear new versions of tracks like “Want” and “Like Cockatoos.” It’s a chance to highlight The Cure’s material outside of their singles. Honestly, I wasn’t expecting much out of this disc, yet it’s my favorite out of the three.

Mixed Up Deluxe isn’t for everyone. It’s for a niche crowd that can appreciate a good club mix or for those into the club scene. If you don’t care for remixes or don’t like dance music, then you won’t find most of the collection appealing. Still, it’s a solid release. You have all of The Cure’s once rare mixes on one disc with extras and a disc full of new remixes. It’s worth it for the third disc alone. It doesn’t feel like it was put together to make a quick buck. Rather, you can tell it was crafted with some thought and it invigorated Smith to try some new versions. Also, there’s so much material to listen to, there’s bound to be one or two tracks you find yourself nodding along to. It’s not for all Cure fans, but it’s still a great addition to your collection. 

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Blue Sunshine – The Glove

Release Year: 1983

Rating: 7/10

It’s not unusual for artists to break out of their comfort zone and take on different projects. Though he’s the charming frontman for The Cure, Robert Smith wanted a break from the spotlight. With the help of some friends and some drugs, Smith recruited Siouxsie and the Banshees’ Steve Severin and vocalist Jenette Landry to form the psychedelic outfit The Glove. The group only produced one album, Blue Sunshine, and it’s a weird trip.

The eccentric album has elements of both The Cure and the Banshees but feels like a hodgepodge of different sounds and styles. Many songs such as “Like An Animal” have a psychedelic vibe to them with swirling synth, dizzying music, and weird lyrics involving sex and death – at least some things don’t change for Smith. At times, the album feels like a weird acid trip that you’re not sure is good or bad. The band plays around and mashes various styles together on songs like the breezy “Looking Glass Girl,” which sounds more appropriate for a Cure album, the disjointed and dizzying “Sex Eye Makeup,” and the manic, bizarre sound collage that is “Relax.” It’s as if the band threw caution to the wind and recorded whatever they felt like.

The songs can be jarring with the weird music, but what’s most unexpected is the absence of Smith’s warbling vocals. Landry takes over vocal duty and even though her voice isn’t bad, sometimes her high-pitched shouting is grating. At times it feels like your ears are going to bleed. Luckily, Smith does lend his voice to two songs: “Mr. Alphabet Says” and “Perfect Murder.” And of course, if you’re a Smith fanatic, they’ll be the best songs from the album. The former is actually the most memorable track with its bouncy opening. Here, we move away from the psychedelia and move into a weird, bluesy mood. It has a jangly piano that’s reminiscent of ragtime tunes. What really puts the song over the top are the additional strings. It gives the song a sense of drama, which is a bit unexpected. Sometimes the strings are jarring, other times it’s oddly pretty.

“Perfect Murder” also has great music. The opening exudes a tropical feel with the playful xylophone kicking things off. Smith sleepily sings lyrics like “move inside my daydream/like fingers in a glove” making for a mood that’s lazy and soothing. Something about it makes you feel like you’re in a hazy, hot jungle. The song ends with Smith’s random noises and howls along with what sounds like crickets chirping in the night. The music and the overall feel makes it stand out from the other songs on the album. Those who prefer Smith’s vocals will be happy to know Glove songs featuring his singing were eventually released on the 2008 reissue.

None of the songs are bad; if anything the music is interesting and catches your attention. But few of the songs aren’t very memorable. Some of them haven’t aged well, either. “This Green City” has a twinkling Casio riff that sounds like it’s taken from a 70s news program. When you hear it, it just makes you laugh. “Punish Me with Kisses” has a similar problem with a cheesy piano riff from a cheap effects program. “Orgy” is a bit of an exception since its snake charmer-esque music is hard to forget. It plays like it’s trying to put the listener in a trance. “Blues in Drag” is an odd, soothing instrumental with echoing keys and gentle strings. It has its pretty moments but is easy to forget when compared to the other songs.

Blue Sunshine is one weird ride. It’s an odd, psychedelic experience that makes you wonder exactly what drugs the group was taking at the time. It’s not necessarily the best album, but its experimental nature makes it worth a listen. Because the band plays around with so many styles you never know what to expect next, which can make it fun. There are some upbeat, catchy songs, but some of them are forgettable. It doesn’t help that the lyrics sound like nonsense at times. It’s weird enough to keep you engaged, but it’s definitely an acquired taste.

Playlist: Awesome MadTv Performances You Forgot About

Anyone remember MadTv? Back in the 90s and 2000s, if Saturday Night Live wasn’t your style, chances are you turned to this show for laughs. It gave us iconic and hilarious characters like Miss Swan and Stuart. After In Living Color, it’s still one of my favorite sketch shows of the 90s, even though I probably shouldn’t have been watching. It also gave us some killer performances. Since the last few seasons of the show and the shoddy revival weren’t that great, it’s easy to forget the big names MadTv pulled in. Featuring new acts and legends helped the show stand out from its competition. So, let’s take a look back at some awesome MadTv performances you probably don’t remember.

The Cure – “Maybe Someday” (2000)

How MadTv managed to get The Cure to perform on the show is a mystery. Robert Smith can get picky about where he plays and a lewd comedy show featuring a grown man in his underwear doesn’t seem like one he’d be a part of. However they did it, the show got The freaking Cure to play “Maybe Sunday” in 2000. It’s a solid performance with Smith and the band sounding amazing as usual. Sadly, it’s a condensed version of the song with Smith not singing the first verse and going straight into the breakdown after the hook, but he’s Robert Smith. He can do that if he wants. I actually remember seeing this right as I was getting into the band. Smith and his wiry black hair captivated me just as much then as he does now. This is still one of my favorite MadTv moments.

The Strokes – “Is This It?/NYC Cops” (2002)

MadTv album Bobby Lee introduces The Strokes as his favorite band and they kick off their two-song set with “Is This It?” As always, frontman Julian Casablancas looks disinterested being on stage. Things get more lively for “NYC Cops” as fans get out of their seats and rush the stage. The scene never gets chaotic; everyone just wiggles and dances in the background while Casablancas looks distraught. The weird part comes at the end when we see Frank Caliente and Mo Collins as George and Babara Bush complaining about MadTv being over and trying to find something else to watch. The scene would be more enjoyable if they actually let The Strokes finish performing.

Queens of the Stone Age – “No One Knows” (2003)

This was around the time QOTSA hit the mainstream, despite releasing two albums prior to Songs of the Deaf. Both this and “Go With the Flow” are a blast to watch. Josh Homme and co go at it hard like they’re playing one of their own shows. The crowd kind of just sits there and politely nods, which is strange. With our current image of Homme being clad in leather, covered in tattoos, and looking slightly haggard, it’s funny to see a young, fresh-faced Homme. Though I can’t get over his creeper mustache. Luckily, he doesn’t revisit that too often.

Sum 41 – “Still Waiting” (2002)

Sum 41 absolutely kills it with this performance. Not only do they sound great, they’re energetic and go it hard bringing some aggression to the MadTv stage. It’s short, sweet, and straight to the point. No weird sketches or tricks here. It’s just the band doing what they do best. But you can’t help noticing the crowd just sitting there nodding their heads to the music. With the hard driving nature of the song, you’d expect people jumping around or least dancing in their seats. It’s kind of weird.

Creed – “Higher”(2000)

Okay, so this performance isn’t that awesome; it’s just funny to look back on. Believe it or not, there was a time when Creed wasn’t a stain on music. Even though the show made funny Creed parodies, even they couldn’t deny how successful the band was. Listening to the performance now, it makes you wonder how people sat there and took Scott Stapp’s vocals seriously. It sounds like he’s doing a bad Eddie Vedder impression throughout the entire song. And seeing him give “sexy” faces to the camera makes you cringe. Still, it’s better than the time Stapp forgot all the words to his songs, so that’s a plus.

Green Day – “Blood, Sex, and Booze” (2001)

After a weird joke from Will Sasso, Green Day takes the stage to perform “Blood, Sex, and Booze,” something they rarely play live. They play with the same passion, fire, and fervor they do in their massive stadium gigs. It’s a pretty cut and dry performance for the band that’s still a blast to watch. While I didn’t like the band at the time this aired, I remember rushing home after school around the peak of American Idiot to catch a rerun featuring this performance. They also played “Warning,” which is a solid performance, it’s not as fun as the previous one.

Ja Rule featuring Ashanti – “Always on Time” (2002)

Remember when Ja Rule and Ashanti ruled the airwaves? These two had a number of hit singles on their own, but they seemed to work best when singing with each other. Regardless of how you feel about Ja Rule and his antics now, you can’t deny he was one of the most popular rappers ten years ago. And while Ja Rule’s gravely vocals can be laughable, the two actually sound really good here. As someone who loved singing this song on weekend drives, this throwback is a blast to watch.

Alien Ant Farm – “Smooth Criminal” (2001)

This performance not only features Alien Ant Farm playing their one smash hit, it also has Aries Spears (remember him?!) doing his best Michael Jackson impression. Donned in a suit, fedora, and white makeup making him look like really creepy, Spears teases MJ’s then comeback, pulls off a couple of kicks, and gets carried off by two young boys. Afterward, the band launches into the song while the crowd dances and waves their arms from the comfort of their seats. Seriously, did the show have a no standing rule or something? The energetic performance and Spears’ impression makes this a memorable MadTv moment. Too bad AAF couldn’t manage to score another hit.

Marilyn Manson – “Personal Jesus” (2004)

MadTv really tried to make this performance “edgy” and “cool” with the twisted camera angles and dark lighting. Unfortunately, things are so dark you can barely see Manson and the rest of the band. Compared to his other TV appearances this one is quite tame and he seems a little bored. John 5 and Tim Skold exude more energy than Manson. Being the newly minted Manson fan I was, I ate up every minute of this performance. It’s still better than his recent concert appearances.

Blondie – “Call Me” (1999)

Since the show has been off the air for almost 10 years, (we won’t count the “revival”) it’s easy to forget how many iconic musicians have played the show. Bon Jovi, Wu-Tang, and Ice-T have all made appearances, but Blondie’s is one of the best. While the performance is great even though it’s cut short, it’s the skit with Miss Swan that stands out. Miss Swan fronts the band singing her own incomprehensible version of the song prompting Debbie Harry to come out and ask what the hell she’s doing. Miss Swan then insists she wrote the song on tuba but allows Harry to sing only if she plays nice. It’s a weird bit you’d never imagine the singer being a part, but it happened. But hey, this was when Miss Swan was at hear peak. Who wouldn’t want to be in one of her sketches?

No Doubt – “Bathwater” (2000)

For anyone to remember No Doubt during their peak, this is how they picture Gwen Stefani. The weird, alt girl with her own style and sound. Stefani is slinky and cool as she sings, while the rest of the band ham it up for the camera, especially a topless Adrian Young. It’s a fun, energetic performance that reminds you how awesome both No Doubt and Stefani were. While I don’t mind her current work, it’s just not the same.

Tenacious D – “Tribute” (2002)

You’re never sure what kind of performance you’re going to get from Tenacious D, but you know it’s gonna be weird and it’s gonna rock. The duo didn’t disappoint with this MadTv appearance. Featuring Dave Grohl on drums, Jack Black recounts a tale of singing the greatest song in the world for a beast. The thing is, they can’t remember it. Black gives his usual hammy rockstar performance that’s fun to watch. The best part comes when he gently sets down his guitar, rips off his shirt to show off his flame painted gut, and “breathes fire” out of his mouth. Clearly, they’re a perfect fit for the show. Too bad they didn’t have them on more often.

There are so many performances I wanted to include, but couldn’t find like Outkast and Wu-Tang Clan. So which MadTv performance is your favorite? Let me know in the comments!

12 Creepy Moments from Non-horror Videos

Ever since the music video was born, there have been artists making clips that set out to get under your skin. These videos are often creepy, disturbing, and sometimes down right scary. But then there’s that group of videos that start out tame, making you think you’re in the safe zone. Out nowhere there’s one image or scene where things take an ugly turn whether it’d be scary or chilling. These videos aren’t horrific, but there’s one instance where things get batshit crazy. Here are 12 seemingly safe videos with creepy moments. Not all of the scenes are scary, but they’re weird, unsettling, or just unexpected.

12. “Heart & Soul” – Huey Lewis and the News

This Huey Lewis video starts out like any other from the 80s; in a club with ridiculous fashion choices. Lewis strides in talking about a woman who has caught his attention, along with the attention of everyone else in the club. Everyone’s dancing, Lewis is singing, and then without warning there’s a shot of a vampire waiter. No explanation. He makes an appearance and is gone again. He makes another brief return near the end when he’s sucking blood out of one of his victims. Okay, so the vampire isn’t scary, more like baffling. What was the point of having him there? It just doesn’t make any sense. It feels so random in this seemingly generic video.

11. “Rockit” – Herbie Hancock

There’s a lot going on that’s unsettling in this video, but I never considered any of it as intentional. It more seemed like one of those 80s videos taking advantage of new technology. Watching it again, there are a lot of scarring images from this video: disembodied legs walking around, faceless robots making jerky movements, and a weird bird snapping at the window. But the thing that’s worse than all of these are the mechanical bots with weird, fleshy like skin over their faces. They don’t do much in the video aside from slowly rotating their heads. It’s like they’re trying to disguise themselves as human and it’s disturbing. When that’s the most horrific thing in a weird video featuring creepy robots, you know something is wrong.

10. “Sweet Dream (Are Made of This)” – Eurythmics

This video already has some weird stuff going on, but the concept seems simple: Annie Lennox looks like a dictator as she points to a screen where a missile heads toward the earth. It seems as normal as a Eurythmics video could be until midway through. Lennox and Stewart appear in weird costumes and masks “playing” a cello outside and being generally creepy. Out of nowhere comes a close up of a cow, a cow that roams around for the rest of the video. The clip ends with them in a cow pasture for some reason. It may not be scary, but there’s something creepy and unexpected of seeing a cow close up wandering aimlessly. There’s something unsettling and weird about it, especially in a video that’s already strange.

9. “InBetween Days” – The Cure

Oh look, it’s The Cure being kind of goofing and actually looking happy. They all look like they’re having a good time with the upbeat music and – what the fuck is that?! With some clever glow in the dark make-up The Cure turns this lighthearted video into a nightmare. As Robert Smith is singing the second verse, his image is slowly replaced with another image of him in eerie green and blue make up. What we’re left with is a monstrous looking version of the singer. It’s so simple, but it’s made all the more terrifying with his head movements and his glowing red eyes. Then the video returns to normal as if nothing happened, making you question if it really happened. The Cure pulled a similar move in their video for “Boys Don’t Cry.” You gotta love a band that wants to creep out their fans.

8. “Oh Father” – Madonna

This beautiful black and white video is semi-autobiographical for the singer. It follows a little girl dealing with the death of her mother, while surviving her father’s rage. It’s somber as Madonna walks through a snowy cemetery and the little girl is constantly yelled at by her father. But the image that has stayed in my mind since I first saw the video at the tender age of 6 is the little girl’s mother in the coffin. When she steps up to give her a kiss, she see’s her mother’s lips sewn together. The image isn’t gruesome in any way, but it’s unsettling especially for someone who didn’t understand death or funerals. Madonna provided another unsettling image in her “Bedtime Story” video where she has mouths for eyes. Thanks for the nightmares, Madonna.

7. “Land of Confusion” – Genesis

Do I really need to explain what makes this one terrifying? The fucking puppets. It’s supposed to be a parody of current events of the 80’s along with the hot celebrities, but they all look like the result of an experiment gone horribly wrong. The keyboard player looks like a dehydrated Mick Jagger and Phil Collins looks like a giant potato. Everything about the video is horrible from how the puppets move to a scene where Puppet Regan drowns in his bed. The result is even worse when they put puppet heads on human bodies. And the scene with Regan slowly emerging from the water is nightmare material. I guess Genesis wanted to make their feelings clear about the president, but couldn’t they have done it in a less terrifying way?

6. “Puttin on the Ritz” – Taco

This one of those moments from the 80’s that makes you question people’s taste. The song was quite popular and the video is weird. The concept isn’t that bad; it’s Taco strolling through alleyways and downtown singing. But the video loses its mind near the end. There close ups of living mannequins singing and people in creepy old men masks. All the while Taco robotically sings and makes strained faces making him look like someone you shouldn’t trust. To make things worse the uncensored version has backup dancers tap dancing with Taco in blackface. It’s one of those moments that makes you question “did I just see that?” The video was horrible enough on its own. Why is this bit in there? It’s unsettling and baffling especially for a clip in the 80’s.

5. “Plug in Baby” – Muse

Videos from the 80’s aren’t the only ones that lure into a false sense of safety. Muse’s clip for “Plug in Baby” seems standard: the band performs the song mixed with footage of dead-eyed models. Classic rock star stuff. It’s until a brief shot of a pair of disembodied legs that you begin to question things. Eventually it’s revealed all the models aren’t human and have what look like tentacles or wires sticking out from their bodies. The pulsing effects on the tentacles are kind of cheesy, but it still gives you shivers when you see legs with only tentacles attached thrusting in the air. What the fuck, Muse.

4. “Self-Control” – Laura Branigan

Laura Branigan talks about the pleasures of the night in this weird clip. It starts out pretty sane with the singer walking through the streets and hitting up a night club. Along the way she spots a guy in a Phantom of the Opera mask, but that’s not what makes this video unsettling. He eventually takes her to a weird basement party where everyone is rubbing against each other wearing masquerade masks. Even that isn’t why the video is on the list. It’s when Branigan finds herself at home with these same people rubbing, caressing, and stroking her that it reaches uncomfortable levels. No matter how many times I see this video it always creeps me out. And yeah, it’s not particularly scary or anything like that, but something about their unnatural movements with those still, eerie masks makes this video horrid. Who thought this was a good idea?

3. “Wild Wild West” – Escape Club

This INXS wannabe video starts off with each of the members playing the song while faux Michael Hutchence gyrates in the corner. Seems like a standard bad 80’s video until the camera pans out shows disembodied legs and arms playing the tambourine. What makes it even worse is they’re connected making it look like one long body limb. It’s just fucking creepy looking. All they’re doing is clapping their hands and tapping their feet, but it looks obscene not attached to a body. It gets even worse when a pair of the legs tries to be scintillating by first rubbing on the singer and then rubbing on its own legs. Who let this monstrosity happen? It’s a video made to give you nightmares.

3. “Jeopardy” – Greg Kihn Band

A wedding day is the focus of this clip. We see Greg Kihn getting ready to get married and trying to get over his cold feet. Sounds pretty standard so far until Kihn looks around him and sees other couples literally joined together. One couple’s arms are fused together while another couple are like odd Siamese twins with a pulsing organ between them. Kihn tries to shake it off and is relieved to see his bride his normal. Until her face changes into a rotting skeleton and her jaw falls off. The rest of the video goes batshit crazy where the entire church turns into zombies and a disembodied tentacle tries to devour Kihn. It all turns out to be a dream and Kihn returns to reality. What is up with videos from the 80’s starting out sane and going nuts at the end? It’s like the director got high in the middle of filming and changed the script.

2. “Shock to the System” – Billy Idol

It’s hard to imagine anything scarier looking in this video aside from Billy Idol’s hairstyle but there is. After Idol gets beaten by the cops in a dystopian future, his body starts absorbing the electronic debris surrounding him. As if the image of wires being sucked into his hand wasn’t creepy enough, we then get a close up of Idol’s contorted face. He grimaces in pain as one eye steadily bulges out further and further from his face. Finally, it pops revealing itself to be a camera lens. Then Idol is transformed into a literal mechanical man full of gears and wires sticking out of him. The video itself may be confusing and laughable but the way Idol jerks and shakes with all those buts sticking out is disturbing. Who greenlit this idea?

1. “Total Eclipse of the Heart” – Bonnie Tyler

So, this may be cheating a little bit, but this video is too insane to not include. Every moment of this clip is batshit crazy. In the span of five minutes, you see ninjas, Cirque du Soleil dancers, football players, fencers, swimmers being splashed with water, rejects from Grease, and Bonnie Tyler fighting a wind machine. So much is happening in this video you think you’re prepared for anything. That is until Tyler runs into the possessed children’s choir with glowing eyes. The effects are pretty cheap by today’s standards, but that moment when a single boy flies towards the singer will make your heart jump. Why is this happening? This video makes absolutely no sense. It’s like they had a huge budget with no concept and said “Fuck it, it’ll look good in the end.” If I had to pick one video to represent the excess of the 80’s this would be it.

Honorable Mention:

“Talking In Your Sleep” – The Romantics

This video didn’t make the list because nothing really happens: the band walks around singing in what looks like a factory full of women sleeping upright. It’s weird, but nothing that creeps you out. But it gets an honorable mention because of singer Wally Palmer. Something about the way he attempts to dance to the music while having the same dead expression on his face is unsettling. It’s like he’s a robot pretending to be human and decided this is the way humans move and dance. It weirds me out every time, especially when he tries to make sensual (?) expressions.

Which one of these videos gives you nightmares? Is there a video I missed? Let me know in the comments!

My Weekend with The Cure AKA The Cure in Chicago

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.