The Cure 2023 North American Tour: Opening Time Down On Fascination Street
The Cure opened up their North American tour at the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans, LA on May 10, 2023.
Most live music experiences can be categorized somewhat easily.
There are jambands, with 20-minute long songs filled with multi-instrumental solos, improvisation, and trippy ventures into the musical unknown. And there are mainstream pop bands, performing 3-minute renditions of their songs that align note-for-note with the versions on their albums and the radio.
And somewhere in between, yet somehow far beyond, lies The Cure.
Robert Smith and The Cure haven’t really faded from the spotlight he so adherently eschews for the past 40 years, but lately, we have seen him and the band in the news a bit more than typical.
Since the times of the pandemic, Smith has been teasing a new album. At one point it was absolutely promised by the end of 2020. Then 2021. Then it was two albums.
It began to look like a dream right out of a Smith-penned fairy tale.
Then, in the Fall of 2023, during a massive European tour, something unimaginable began to occur: The Cure started playing new music.
It began with just one song – Alone – and then another – Endsong. Before long, fans were clamoring to Cure shows and vehemently checking online for the setlist of the ones they had missed. Robert Smith and The Cure had actual new music – the promised albums were turned from hopeful pipe-dream to… possibility.
And while the winter following that tour didn’t bring any further news of a release date for Songs of the Lost World – it had a name now – it did bring an even more anticipated announcement – a full Spring/Summer 2023 North American Tour – something The Cure had not done in 7 years!
And then Robert Smith once again gained the media spotlight, this time for his headstrong attempts to take on the concert ticketing monopoly of Ticketmaster.
Much like Robert Smith the Butterfly bravely fought Mecha-Streisand in the legendary South Park episode in which it was correctly proclaimed that “Disintegration is the best album ever,” Smith once again went to battle against the forces of evil on behalf of his fans.
The Cure offered a different approach to the ticketing process in an attempt to limit the price gouging of the secondary market. And, Smith actually seems to have succeeded somewhat.
By eliminating the reselling of tickets – except for on the chosen approved platforms -tickets were largely kept in the hands of the real fans.
Then, when reports reached Smith of overly inflated ‘processing fees,’ Smith negotiated with Ticketmaster to refund a portion of those fees back to the purchasers.
Thousands of Cure fans saw their accounts credited back by $5-10 a ticket. That may not seem like much, but it’s monumentally beyond what any other artist has done, and showed that the Ticket Monster might have a weakness in its armor after all.
So, it was with this hype and buildup that The Cure began their first North American tour in 7 years, in the most fitting town possible for the dark gods of goth, in Les City de Vampires itself, New Orleans Louisiana.
I’ll get personal here for a moment, and forgive me, but it’s simply not possible to write about The Cure and not insert myself into the narrative.
I listen to a ton of music, in just about every genre imaginable (even country!), and see just as large a variety of concerts.
To this day, and every day since I was 13 years old and my sister lent me her copy (and I mean copy) of the Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me cassette, when asked if I have a favorite band, the immediate answer is always “The Cure”.
There are few greater constants in my life, if any. The Cure has simply always been my favorite.
And it’s not out of a sense of nostalgia – I’ve never stopped listening to them. The entire 40-year+ catalog is always in rotation in my home, car, and head.
When I need a go-to crowd pleaser I throw on Mixed Up. When I’m feeling sad I listen to Kiss Me. When I’m feeling silly it’s Wild Mood Swings. Every album – even Carnage Visors – has found its way into my ears at some point throughout just about every year of my life. And, without fail, when I want to escape the drone of an airplane, I listen to Disintegration.
So I would be lying to you if I said I didn’t have tears in my eyes when the opening notes of Plainsong hit me on the flight to New Orleans to see The Cure open up their tour. And I was also giddy with anticipation at the prospect (the fairly certain prospect) of hearing Fascination Street on opening night in the town for which it was written.
Which brings us to Wednesday, May 10, in New Orleans, Louisiana.
The mood outside the Smoothie King Center (ok, not the most goth arena names, but if you say it with a spooky accent – Smooooooothy King – wha ha ha ha!) was simply electric.
Fans of all ages – seriously, all ages – dressed in every shade of black imaginable, paraded the streets of NOLA en route to the show. Parents adorned in lace and red lipstick accompanied teenagers in Doc Martins, black stockings, and knee-high boots with spiders in their hair. And there was, of course, enough eyeliner in the crowd to fill Bourbon Street.
As with the last time The Cure ventured across the pond, this tour is to be opened by The Twilight Sad, who noticeably had a nice contingent of fans in attendance.
In the interlude following The Twilight Sad’s performance, in lieu of music, the arena was filled with the sounds of a thunderstorm.
The excitement grew immensely.
And then The Cure, one by one – bassist Simon Gallup, drummer Jason Cooper, keyboardist Roger O’Donnell, guitarist Reeves Gabrels, guitarist/keyboardist Perry Bamonte – and concluding to thunderous applause with the unmistakable form of Robert Smith – took the stage.
The show began with Jason Cooper’s thundering drums that signaled the start of Alone, further stirring the anticipation of a night featuring more new music from a band that has not released a record of new music in 15 years.
Alone is a fitting show opener, and, like most of the new tunes unveiled in late 2023’s tour, could easily slide right into Disintegration. So it was fitting when the second slot on the opening night setlist was filled by the powerhouse epic Pictures of You.
And just like that, we were off.
The Cure’s North American Tour had begun!
No opening night snafus, no lulls in the action, no conversations on stage about how to proceed – just Robert Smith leading his band through a perfect night of 29 songs spanning almost 3 hours and 4 decades of rarities, hits, and debuts, proving why The Cure is one of the greatest live bands of all time.
What I always tell people who have never seen The Cure – especially those that don’t know their music much beyond Friday I’m In Love – is that you can’t really know the fullness of sound this band conveys, the true depth of these songs, until you see hear them live.
The catalog of recorded music this band has given us is truly amazing, but these songs were meant to be heard loudly. Maybe it has something to do with the recording processes of the 80s, or what was expected from an “alternative/goth” band, but the drums at a live Cure show will shake the entire town – and that is exactly what happened in The Big Easy.
And then there is Smith’s guitar playing. While often subdued and taking to the rhythm and melody, allowing other band members to take the lead, make no mistake that Robert Smith can shred the guitar – something he often revels in on stage. Notably in this show was the extended guitar jam he and Simon Gallup performed to bring A Forest to its dramatic close.
The Cure’s sound was matched by an incredible light and visual show specific to each song. When Lullaby came up, a giant spider climbed a web that toured above the stage. During A Forest, a camera creepily traveled through an ashen forest of Aspen trees. And when The Cure eventually did play Fascination Street on opening night, the place erupted as the stage was engulfed in sinful red.
Throughout the nearly 2 hours and 45 minute performance, The Cure explored every corner of their legacy – from dark to pop, obscure to hit.
There were plenty of expected selections, and a few surprises, including A Thousand Hours and 6 Different Ways – both of which had only been played once before in the band’s history, and not since the mid-1980’s.
And along the way, we were treated to 6 yet-to-be-recorded songs, off the eventual Songs of a Lost World album. And while these new songs were performed at some point or other in Europe last fall, they were all mostly unknown and previously unheard by the majority of the crowd. Yet they were each received with equaled enthusiasm as the hits.
The hits, of course, came, but not until after a 15-song opening set that spanned an hour and a half, in which Robert and the band kept the selection just dark enough to appease the witches and vampires of the most gothic city in North America.
Then, after a brief hiatus in which, unprompted, nearly the entire crowd waved their cell flashlights in the air to a brilliant effect, the first encore began with I Can Never Say Goodbye – another new tune that Smith had dedicated to his late brother.
The encore then delivered the biggest surprise of the night, A Thousand Hours, which had only been played live once in The Cure’s long history.
When The Cure left the stage following Smith and Gallup’s epic A Forest finale, there was no one in the building who wouldn’t have gone home completely fulfilled.
But then, after a very brief sojourn, Robert Smith and The Cure returned and played a 2nd encore that would itself rival the set list of most other touring bands – especially any who have been doing this for over 40 years.
Fans of The Cure’s more recognizable tunes were all appeased as the band delivered a barrage of hits, including Friday I’m In Love, In-between Days, Just Like Heaven, and finally closing with Boys Don’t Cry.
The final encore saw Smith getting loose and working the entire stage, igniting every corner of the arena with a simple shake and a wave. When the band finally concluded, the applause was nearly deafening, and tears swelled in the eyes of more than a few eyes, including, of course, mine.
There is just nothing like The Cure.
Sure, this band has had its ups and downs, and has seen members come and go, but ultimately it is the songs – and the voice – of Robert Smith that have endured, and solidified the legacy of The Cure forever.
And as Robert took his final leave, thanking the crowd through tears of his own, he closed by saying, “I’m sure I’ll see you again.”
We certainly hope so.
The Cure is on tour this summer all over North America.
Put on your face, put on your feet, and GO SEE THE CURE!
Setlist: The Cure, Smoothie King Center, New Orleans, LA — 5/10/23
2. “Pictures of You”
3. “A Night Like This”
5. “And Nothing Is Forever”
6. “The Last Day of Summer”
7. “A Fragile Thing”
10. “Fascination Street”
12. “Play for Today”
13. “Shake Dog Shake”
14. “From the Edge of the Deep Green Sea”
16. “I Can Never Say Goodbye”
18. “A Thousand Hours”
19. “At Night”
20. “A Forest”
22. “Six Different Ways”
23. “The Walk”
24. “Friday I’m In Love”
25. “Doing the Unstuck”
26. “Close To Me”
27. “Inbetween Days”
28. “Just Like Heaven”
29. “Boys Don’t Cry”
The Cure tour dates 2023
May 10: New Orleans, LA — Smoothie King Center
May 12: Houston, TX — Toyota Center
May 13: Dallas, TX — Dos Equis Pavilion
May 14: Austin, TX — Moody Center
May 16: Albuquerque, NM — Isleta Amphitheater
May 18: Phoenix, AZ — Desert Diamond Arena
May 20: San Diego, CA — NICU Amphitheatre
May 21: San Diego, CA — NICU Amphitheatre
May 23: Los Angeles, CA — Hollywood Bowl
May 24: Los Angeles, CA — Hollywood Bowl
May 25: Los Angeles, CA — Hollywood Bowl
May 27: San Francisco, CA — Shoreline Amphitheatre
May 29: San Francisco, CA — Shoreline Amphitheatre
May 31: Portland, OR — MODA Centre
June 1: Seattle, WA — Climate Pledge Arena
June 2: Vancouver, BC — Rogers Arena
June 4: Salt Lake City, UT — Vivint Smart Home Arena
June 6: Denver, CO — Fiddler’s Green Amphitheatre
June 8: Minneapolis St. Paul, MN — Xcel Energy Center
June 10: Chicago, IL — United Center
June 11: Cleveland, OH — Blossom Music Center
June 13: Detroit, MI — Pine Knob Music Theatre
June 14: Toronto, ON — Budweiser Stage
June 16: Montreal, QC — Bell Centre
June 17: Montreal, QC — Bell Centre
June 18: Boston, MA — Xfinity Center
June 20: New York, NY — Madison Square Garden
June 21: New York, NY — Madison Square Garden
June 22: New York, NY — Madison Square Garden
June 24: Philadelphia, PA — Wells Fargo Center
June 25: Columbia, MD — Merriweather Post Pavilion
June 27: Atlanta, GA — State Farm Arena
June 28: Atlanta, GA — State Farm Arena
June 29: Tampa, FL — Amalie Arena
July 1: Miami, FL — Miami-Dade Arena
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