When it was announced that The Cure would be playing New Orleans, I couldn’t buy tickets fast enough. With the help of a friend’s pre-sale code, I snapped up two moderately priced nosebleeds for their May 11th show at the UNO Lakefront Arena, which sold out so fast they added a second show for May 10th. This addition prevented me from being able to brag that I was at the first gig of their first North American tour since 2008, but in this case—and possibly only this case—coming in at second place worked in my favor. As it turns out, the setlist for the May 11th show far surpassed (in my eyes and ears at least) the one for the preceding night, based on the setlist shares I saw online.
The Cure and I go way back, but until this show I had never seen them perform live—although I came close. I had tickets to see them during their Wish tour in 1992, but after being caught smoking behind my high school’s pool and suspended, my dad ceremoniously came into my room and burnt my tickets in an ashtray in front of my crying eyes. At the time it seemed like the worst thing that could possibly happen to me, but I wish (maybe pun intended?) that young me could have taken solace in knowing that 24 years later, I’d be seeing them, finally. And it would be in my new home of New Orleans, with my new wife, and I would be able to legally buy all the beers I wanted with my own, hard-earned money.
The band’s current lineup consists of Robert Smith, Simon Gallup, Jason Cooper, Roger O’Donnell, and Reeves Gabrels, who is the newest member of the band (having joined them in 2012). When they walked out on stage and immediately launched into “Plainsong” off of 1989’s Disintegration, the emotional drama of it all had me feeling very underdressed. In that moment I regretted not wearing a black velvet dress (or at least a cape of some sort), even though a good 75% of the audience was wearing casual slacks, summer tees, and sandals. Yes. Sandals at a Cure show. I was surprised too. Whatevs. It’s hot out. Live your lives.
From where I was sitting, Smith looked the same as he did in the posters plastering my walls during my formative years in the ‘90s, and not at all like the melted candle I presume him to actually be in appearance. Gallup gave off the energy of a man half his age—unable to keep still for even a moment as he hopped around strumming and striking rock star poses for the crowd. Having heard from people who attended the previous night’s show that their set would hit around the three-hour mark, I was wondering if my sentimental love for their songs would translate into real-time endurance for that long of a show. I quickly learned that sentimentality had less to do with the situation than I thought when the time started to just fly by. The show could have really gone on for hours longer and I would have been fine with that.
The main thing I took away from seeing The Cure for the first time is that even though they’ve been around for a very long time, they are still as relevant now as they were then. They still (give or take a few missed notes from Robert) sound as good as they did then. Hearing them go through a massive sampling of their glory days hits like “Pictures of You,” “Just Like Heaven,” and the gut clenching “Prayers For Rain” was very much like my own personal episode of This Is Your Life.
At one point, during the beginning of their set, Robert Smith said something about how playing these songs took him back to when he played them for the first time. Hearing the songs took me back to when I heard them for the first time. That’s the power of music. That’s the reason all of this matters. Music, much like smells, is the closest thing to time travel we’ll likely get in our lifetimes.