The Cure Delivers Moody, Hit-Heavy Set at First of Three Hollywood Bowl Shows: Concert Review

The first words sang by Robert Smith at the Cure’s Hollywood Bowl show in L.A. on Tuesday night — “This is the end/ Of every song that we sing” — set a reflective tone for the rest of the famed goth rock band’s performance as attendees were taken through its 45-year history.

The two-hour and 45-minute set kicked off with “Alone,” an unreleased track from the Cure’s long-awaited 14th album, “Songs of a Lost World.” Judging from the several new songs the band played, including the world premiere of refashioned ’90s demo “Another (Happy) Birthday,” the Cure’s forthcoming project sees Smith grappling heavily with mortality and the loss that comes with growing older. But the music itself showed no signs of aging: Smith’s voice is as velvety smooth and strong as ever, drummer Jason Cooper didn’t miss a beat and bassist Simon Gallup provided a powerful backbone for the rest of the band’s lush instrumentals.

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The Cure’s musical prowess was immediately put on display with the set’s second song, “Disintegration” classic “Pictures of You,” as the band delivered a near-exact performance to the song’s 1989 recording and got the crowd singing along — even to the guitar part. Followed by “A Night Like This” and “Lovesong,” the Cure hit an early stride, sprinkling in new tracks along the way. Though the audience may not have known the words to the unreleased songs, they were given the same amount of attention — after all, this is the band’s first North American tour since 2016 and, despite Smith’s best efforts, tickets were not easy to acquire.

“Charlotte Sometimes,” “Push,” “Shake Dog Shake” and “From the Edge of the Deep Green Sea” marked the end of the show’s first act, and the transition to the first encore was quick (the set is structured with two lengthy “encores”). Halfway through the first encore marked Smith’s longest address of the crowd — before launching into “A Thousand Hours,” Smith waxed poetic about growing older, adding to the show’s pensive theme. “It’s really hard to keep hold of your younger self,” he said. “When you’ve written about it, it’s like a diary kind of, when you write songs and you sort of think, ‘Fuck me, was I that sad when I was that young?’ I had no idea. This is one of those songs.”

The second encore was filled to the brim with the band’s greatest hits, which seemed to allow Smith to really let loose on stage. “We haven’t done this song in 1300 years,” Smith said before playing “Six Different Ways” from 1985’s “The Head on the Door,” through which he tiptoed around stage like a goth ballerina, complete with the occasional jump and twirl. “Friday I’m in Love” was naturally full of joy, as “Wish” hearts were projected onto the Bowl’s LED screens and couples carried out impromptu dances. “Doing the Unstuck” provided another highlight with the crowd echoing the song’s standout lyric: “Let’s get happy!” And the sentiment was fulfilled, as the Cure ran through “Close to Me,” “In Between Days,” “Just Like Heaven” and “Boys Don’t Cry” in quick succession, culminating in a euphoric finale.

As the final notes of the anthemic “Boys Don’t Cry” echoed and the band departed, Smith lingered on stage for a couple more minutes, holding his hand to his heart as if it was about to jump out of his chest. He, too, didn’t want it to end.

See the full setlist below.

  • “Alone”

  • “Pictures of You”

  • “A Night Like This”

  • “Lovesong”

  • “And Nothing Is Forever”

  • “The Last Day of Summer”

  • “A Fragile Thing”

  • “Burn”

  • “Another (Happy) Birthday”

  • “Charlotte Sometimes”

  • “Push”

  • “Primary”

  • “Shake Dog Shake”

  • “From the Edge of the Deep Green Sea”

  • “Endsong”

Encore 1

  • “I Can Never Say Goodbye”

  • “It Can Never Be the Same”

  • “A Thousand Hours”

  • “At Night”

  • “A Forest”

Encore 2

  • “Lullaby”

  • “Six Different Ways”

  • “The Walk”

  • “Friday I’m in Love”

  • “Doing the Unstuck”

  • “Close to Me”

  • “In Between Days”

  • “Just Like Heaven”

  • “Boys Don’t Cry”

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