Thursday, August 5, 2004

The Cure soothes fans' imaginations


Concert review

By C.E. Hanifin / Enquirer staff writer

Within the Cure's most stunning songs, frontman Robert Smith creates entire universes out of the visions in his mind and the emotions in his heart.

On Tuesday night at Riverbend Music Center, Smith drew his audience inside those microcosms of imagination, showing them romantic ambivalence at "The End of the World," a heartbreaking sunrise "From the Edge of the Deep Green Sea," and, most entrancingly, a shadowy, angular view of "A Forest."

The performance capped the day-long Curiosa Festival, which featured half-hour performances by seven bands that showed off their Cure influences with textured guitars and anguished yelps.

During a set that spanned almost two hours, Smith and his band delved into music from throughout the English group's career, from the jaunty, jangly 1980 song "Boys Don't Cry" to "Us or Them," a scathing antiwar protest from the band's self-titled new release.

"Pictures of You" and other wrenching elegies to love gone awry have long served as a soundtrack for the gloomy nights of youth. The members of the audience who sang out each despair-filled line included recently minted teen fans swathed in head-to-toe black and longtime devotees who have graduated to khaki shorts and middle age. (Thankfully, Smith did not keep his promise to wear Hawaiian-print garb on this tour; he stepped on stage in his trademark long-sleeved black shirt and liberally applied black eyeliner and red lipstick).

Smith still reigns as the master of musical darkness, but he has a wicked sense of humor, too. He relished each sly, smirky lyric of "Why Can't I Be You?" and spiderwalked his hand up the microphone stand during the coy nightmare tale "Lullaby."

The second and final encore of the night kicked off with "Close To Me," a song about anticipation so painfully acute that the waited-for event is bound to disappoint. But for the crowd of roaring Cure fans, this night more than matched their hopes for it.

E-mail chanifin@enquirer.com



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