I was a bit nervous for The Cure on Thursday night. A flyer mishap had them promoting that they were playing Xcel Energy Center in Minneapolis. Fans were quick to correct them with the fact that Xcel Energy Center is actually in Saint Paul. Was The Cure going to end up in the wrong town?! All joking aside, I was excited as I entered the giant and packed arena. Ridiculously long lines of people waiting to buy merchandise filled the concourse and the ambient sound of a rainstorm pumping through the speakers flooded the arena. All of this definitely set the stage for what was sure to be a night to remember for the nearly 20,000 fans that were in attendance on Thursday night.
The Twilight Sad was the sole opener for the nearly sold out show. Right off the bat, I was caught by vocalist James Graham’s mannerisms. They came off almost other worldly yet organic. Some of the movements made sense with the music whereas others seemed just a bit strange. Regardless, he was giving me something to see that I didn’t want to miss a second of. The way he took the stage definitely caught my attention but it was the music with the driving and heavy beats that kept me enthralled.
The Twilight Sad has a very distinct yet familiar sound. Echoed and powerful vocals are the star of their sound but it would also be nothing without the electronic undertones and driving drums. Think a little 80s new wave with a bit more of an industrial influence and an almost Radiohead feel at moments. I promise that I’m not crazy. It was a really cool sound and, even if my description is way off in your mind, it’s worth giving this Scottish band a listen.
Although the band didn’t address the crowd more than to dedicate a song to Snoopy, thank The Cure for the opportunity, and thank people for coming early, there was something powerfully poetic about their quick opening set. I was left feeling a bit emotionally overwhelmed and a bit more deaf than usual due to the sheer power and sound of their set but I was happy.
Instantly, the couple next to me and I were cracking jokes as the “geriatric rockers” hobbled onto the stage but and I know that’s a bit rude to say but that’s how it kind of felt. Instead of storming the stage to the roar of applause coming from the arena, the six band members just kind of sauntered onto the stage with vocalist Robert Smith being the last. The way Robert Smith took the stage was so odd and understated but also so perfect. He just kinda of wandered around the stage in an almost eerie manor as the rest of the band started to play the opening track, “Alone”. Again, it was an odd way to start the set but also so perfect and, like that thunderstorm sound, really set the stage for what would turn into an absolutely dazzling night of music.
Usually this is the point in my reviews where I would give you some background on the band but, it’s The Cure and, I’m sorry, but if you don’t know who The Cure is or have never heard of Robert Smith, then I just can’t help you. To say that The Cure is a monumental band would be an understatement as would saying Robert Smith is a genius. Really, the influence that he and this band has had on all facets of music would be too much for me to put into words. Long story short, The Cure is everything and being able to see them perform live on Thursday night was absolutely everything I could have asked for.
The bulk of the set was sixteen songs spanning the entire storied career of The Cure but the fun didn’t stop there. After that “main set”, the band went on to play two lengthy encores. I’ve never been the type of writer to spoil the setlists so I’m not going to start now but I was truly impressed by how many tracks the band seemed to power through. Even though they were pumping through them, every song was played with a sense of professionalism and passion which proved to me that although this band has been around since 1978, they are still doing exactly what they were meant to do.
Having been around for literal decades, I expected some aging in not only their performance but their sound. That is not at all what I got. Although I wasn’t around in the early years of this band, I think I can go ahead and assume that nothing has changed about this band which is absolutely jaw dropping. Within the first track, I couldn’t help but turn to my seat neighbors and explain how shocked I was. The thought was mutual and we continued to constantly elbow each other just to say, “Holy Crap! Robert Smith sounds so freaking good!”. In all honesty, the entire band sounded great. They were tight and played every note with intent but also with a sense of love but it was Robert’s voice that really stood out to me. Full disclosure, I didn’t get deep into The Cure like a lot of people I know but I still know the songs. I know the voice and I know the vibe and getting exactly what I had in my mind was honestly a bit of a shock.
Another shock from the Thursday night performance was just how understated the show was. I’ve talked about some other arena shows being understated lately but this one takes that word to a whole new level. Two very small screens were hanging from both sides of the stage and the backdrop was a couple of LED panels but, beyond that, there was nothing. Sure, whirling lights and a mix of videos and a live feed from the show were on the screens from time to time but that was it. My first thought was how much it must suck to be in the very back of the arena because even the screens they had seemed to be more fitted for a living room when it came to their size (I know they were probably much bigger than I’m giving them credit for but they were still tiny compared to screens I’ve seen other acts use) which means there was very little chance of seeing much of anything from the back. But, then, as I started to think about it, I realized how much I liked this. They relied on their music, not a production and, with a band like The Cure, that’s exactly how I would have wanted them to do it.
Long story short, The Cure was absolutely amazing on Thursday night. I will be seeing them again in Chicago at Riot Fest and, I have to be honest, when I saw them on the line-up, I instantly figured that could be a night where I could bounce a little bit early to miss the rush out of Riot Fest (which is always insane). After seeing The Cure on Thursday, I know there is no way I am leaving Riot Fest early nor missing any chance to see The Cure live. I mean, seriously, what an amazing performance from a legendary band. Bravo!