Foo Fighters Rock RVA

For the last ten years at least, perhaps longer, I have heard many very smart people who work in the music business proclaim with certainty that ‘Rock Music Is Dead!’ It had been replaced by ultra-slick, auto-tuned productions that strived for perfection, but in that pursuit had lost its soul.

‘Rock is dead. The passion is gone. It will never be the same.’

Dave Grohl and his band Foo Fighters obviously never got the message because, on Saturday night they offered a three-hour set of blistering hard rock as testament that Rock and Roll is Alive and Well!

It was something quite wonderful to behold.

Photo by author

Supporting their latest effort, ‘Concrete and Gold’, which was represented well in the evening’s set list, the band took the nearly sold out Richmond Coliseum crowd on a trip through the band’s 20+ year career, playing some songs that had not been played live in a very long time, along with the ones you expect to hear, and even a few that even surprised Dave and the band.

 

‘I say tonight we play songs from every album…so there ain’t much time for talkin’,’ Dave announced to the crowd three songs in. In fact, the songs didn’t stop and Dave didn’t say ‘Hi’ to the audience until they were done playing ten straight songs, almost nonstop. This was my first Foo Fighters show, so while I had seen Dave interviewed and seen some performances on television, I did not know that he basically turns into Animal from the Muppets on stage; a frantic head banging, hair flying maniac.

The featured songs from the new record translate to the stage well, especially ‘Run’ and ‘The Sky Is a Neighborhood’, the latter of which heavily features a trio of female lead singers, brought along on tour to add harmony vocals. I am happy to see on subsequent shows that most of the new material is still being played, although the title track, which was part of an epic 45 minute encore, as of this writing, has not been played since making its live debut Saturday.

Photo courtesy of Brian Hall

Another moment that appears to be a ‘Richmond Exclusive’, since we were the first arena stop on the tour, is drummer Taylor Hawkins’ lead vocal spotlight on a cover of Queen’s ‘I’m In Love With My Car.’ Dave asked the crowd if they liked the song being part of the show, saying they added it since the song inspired Hawkins to be a drummer and a singer. It was a neat moment, but with such a large catalog, I am sure most fans would have rather heard another deep cut from the Foos as opposed to a cover.

After the band left the stage the first time, we all knew they were coming back for an encore. There was a camera backstage that showed Dave urging the crowd to get louder and putting up one finger as if to ask ‘You wanna hear one more?’ Then he put up two, then three and eventually five fingers before finally taking the stage again to play what would indeed be an unforgettable encore.

When the Foo Fighters first hit the scene in the mid-nineties, I liked them, but I wasn’t a huge fan. I liked their songs when I heard them on the radio or when I saw a video on MTV (Although I did get sick of ‘Big Me’ when it seemed to be coming out of every radio speaker), but I didn’t own any records by them. Then I saw the documentary ‘Sound City’ in which Dave chronicles the history of the infamous LA recording studio, and soon after I saw that, I watched the HBO series ‘Sonic Highways’, which featured the band visiting eight US cities and writing and recording a song in each city. It was after that series concluded that I immediately bought the ‘Sonic Highways’ record and made it a point that, the next time Foo Fighters were anywhere close, I would check them out.

I mention all of this because, even though I have delved into the back catalog of the band, ‘Sonic Highways’ remains my favorite and, while I did not expect to hear a majority of that record on Saturday, I was ecstatic to hear two songs specifically. ‘Something From Nothing’, which kicks off the ‘Sonic Highways’ record was featured early in the set (and that song was when I took my glasses off, stowed them away in my pocket and decided to headbang like I was eighteen again, at least for a few songs).

 

As headbanging almost always is for me, it was a very cathartic moment.

 

Later, in the midst of that long encore, after already playing four songs and blowing past the 11:30pm noise ordinance curfew, there was a pause on stage and then Dave said, ‘Watch this! I’m gonna surprise the band!’ He then tore into the opening riff to ‘Congregation’ which is, without question my favorite song from the ‘Sonic Highways’ project, and it may be my favorite song by the band, period. The band quickly joined in, and we were off on one of my favorite concert moments in a very long time. 

The Congregation (Courtesy of Brian Hall)

To me, the song crystalizes how music can be at times as moving and as important as one’s religion or faith. I’ve always had a problem with ‘organized religion’, and some may find it offensive to compare such a secular activity to a religion, or use the word ‘faith’ when talking of music, but in my life, in some of my darkest hours, music has been the one thing that has kept me afloat and helped me see that, even when I was in seemingly insurmountable pain, I could get through it. 
Some lyrics:

Send in the congregation

Open your eyes, step in the light

A jukebox generation

Just as you were

And you need blind faith

No false hope

Do you have blind faith?

No false hope

Where is your blind faith?

No false hope

Open your eyes, open your eyes

Step into the light

Open your eyes, step into the light

I’m grateful they played ‘Congregation’, and I’m now aware that Richmond really did get a very special show. The following night, the encore was much shorter, and ‘Congregation’ has not been played. If this show ends up being the only show where it’s performed (along with probably Nashville, the city that inspired it), then I count myself lucky to have been there. 

Seeing the hordes of sweaty fans on the floor, sharing the experience of this show, it reminded me again that Rock is not dead, and, if you catch the right moment, you can even see Rock thrive in 2017.

The Foo Fighters rocked, and they rocked hard for three hours, and in doing so, they singlehandedly restored my faith in the power of Rock, and the power of music.

So, if they play anywhere close to where you live…GO! You won’t be sorry!

 

Setlist from setlist.fm

 

Run

I’ll Stick Around

Learn to Fly

The Pretender

The Sky Is a Neighborhood

Something From Nothing

Walk

Rope

(Extended outro; with drum solo at the end)

Sunday Rain

My Hero

These Days

Let It Die

(First time live since 4/ 3/12)

All My Life

Enough Space

White Limo

Arlandria

Times Like These

(Solo into full band)

Breakout

Make It Right

I’m in Love With My Car

(Queen cover) (Taylor Hawkins on lead vocals)

Skin and Bones

Jump / Fat Bottomed Girls

(Played during band intros)

Monkey Wrench

Best of You

[Encore]:

Dirty Water

This Is a Call

La Dee Da

Wheels

(First time in the US since 5/ 7/14)

Congregation

Concrete and Gold

(Live debut)

Everlong

 Thank you for reading

-Barry

Adam Ant Reminds Us ‘Ridicule Is Nothing To Be Scared Of’

Wednesday night (09.20), Adam Ant brought his ‘ANTHEMS’ Tour to The National, and as promised, the evening was a wonderful flashback to the 80’s and the early days of MTV. More than that, though, the night was a testament to a performer who has survived the height of 80’s success (and excess), battled mental illness, and come out the other side. Perhaps he was surprised to find his fans were waiting for him when he returned to the recording studio after a 17 year hiatus in 2013? Whatever the reason, this tour is a celebratory nod to the past, and it’s also undeniable proof that Ant (real name Stuart Goddard) still has ‘It’; that star quality charisma that demands you watch him (and only him) as he commands the stage. 


Wearing a cowboy hat in lieu of his trademark pirate garb, and clad head to toe in black leather, Ant opened the show with a song originally only available on the cassette version of 1980’s ‘Kings of the Wild Frontier’, the punk-tinged ‘Beat My Guest’, played at such a fast tempo that it was almost a thrash number, daring a mosh pit to materialize. For the first twenty minutes, each song came without a break for a breath; ‘Vive Le Rock’, ‘Dog Eat Dog’, ‘Friend of Foe.’ It wasn’t until about the sixth or seventh song in the set when Ant stopped to say ‘Hello Richmond’ and acknowledge the crowd, mainly so everyone onstage and in attendance could catch their breath.

 

The biggest cheers of the night came when the two biggest US singles were featured toward the end of the set, ‘Strip’ and ‘Goody Two Shoes’, which were both MTV staples throughout the early 80’s, and a blistering version of ‘Kings of the Wild Frontier’; but as the opening number proved, Ant isn’t adverse to throwing in a deep cut (‘Greta X; ‘B-Side Baby’) to keep things interesting for the longtime diehard fans.

 

As Goddard approaches his sixty-third birthday, he appears the happiest and healthiest of his entire career, which is a wonderful triumph. I admit that I bought a ticket to this show only because the tour was called ‘Anthems’ and I knew I would hear ‘the old songs,’ but after seeing Adam Ant in concert one time, I will see him next time and every time he’s nearby, even if the setlist is full of songs I don’t know. In this age of carbon copy bands, it was a pleasure to witness a pop pioneer proving he’s still at the top of his game, a bit older and a lot wiser.

 

Set list (courtesy of Setlist.fm)

Beat My Guest

Vive Le Rock

Dog Eat Dog

Apollo 9

Friend or Foe

Antmusic

Room at the Top

Desperate But Not Serious

Cartrouble

Zerox

Young Parisians

Prince Charming

Gotta Be a Sin

Puss ‘n Boots

Can’t Set Rules About Love

Christian D’or

Strip

Kings of the Wild Frontier

Greta X

B-Side Baby

Stand and Deliver

(Encore)

Goody Two Shoes

Lady/Fall In

Red Scab

Physical (You’re So)

 

–Barry

Alan Doyle Still Has A Smile On His Face (And Four Walls Around Him)

Tuesday night I had the pleasure of seeing Alan Doyle play a very small local music venue. Who is Alan Doyle, you ask? He’s best known as one of the founding members of the band Great Big Sea, who tried their best to hit the big time in the US in the late 90s and early 2000’s after conquering their homeland of Canada a few years before. While they would play to stadium sized crowds in Canada, Great Big Sea (GBS) would play small theatres and clubs in America, where the crowds were smaller, but no less enthusiastic.

GBS is pure nostalgia for me. Their music marks a very specific time period in my life, and reminds me of very specific people. I honestly was not aware that GBS had officially split in 2013. When I heard that Alan Doyle was going to appear at Tin Pan, I knew I had to get a ticket to see what he’d been up to since I last saw him fifteen years ago.

Tin Pan is an interesting, intimate venue in the mold of Alexandria’s Birchmere. They offer dinner reservations with your ticket for preferred seating, and the music, not chatting is the most important thing.

 

After a funny, sardonic and brief opening set by Donavan Woods, Alan took the stage to sing a song a cappella, proving that his voice is still in top form,  then his band Beautiful Gypsies joined him and they started with ‘I Can’t Dance Without You’ from Alan’s latest solo effort, 2015’s ‘So Let’s Go.’ The mix was great, the house was packed and I was pleased to see Alan had not lost any of the gregariousness that made him my favorite member of GBS.

The sing-along started early when the band kicked into ‘When I’m Up’ and Alan demanded audience participation. It was around this time of the night when the crowd began buying Alan shots and doubles of Jameson Whiskey, which Alan never refused.

Here’s the set list, and then some thoughts:

Dream of Home (a cappella)

I Can’t Dance Without You

When I’m Up

Come Out With Me

My Day

Where the Nightingale Sings

Sea of No Cares

The Night Loves Us

Lukey

Forever Light Will Shine

I’ve Seen a Little

In The Morning (Guitarist Cory, solo)

Old Black Rum

Roll Me Bully Boys Row

Consequence Free

Testify

1,2,3,4 (featuring verses from ‘Tub Thumping’ and ‘You Can Call Me Al’)

[Encore]

Wave on Wave

Shine On

Ordinary Day

 

No matter the size of the stage, Alan is a showman, making sure that everyone in attendance has a good time. Even though we were seated at tables and the bar, dancers got up and waltzed, reeled and jigged. 

The biggest surprise for me was that, while with GBS, Alan would sing at least one ballad per album. His set Tuesday was more upbeat and, as such, none of the three pop ballads Alan sang (‘Fast As I Can’, ‘Boston and St. John’s’ and ‘Clearest Indication’) were highlighted. Not that I minded, I was just very surprised. 

Bonus: Murray Foster, formerly of Moxy Fruvous and mote recently the bassist for GBS is part of Alan’s band, as is former GBS drummer Kris MacFarlane. 

As the show ended, Alan implored fans to stick around for autographs and selfies. Instead of sitting behind his merchandise table, just outside the venue in an entrance hall, Alan took a seat at the bar and the fans queued up to get a pic, a signature and share stories. Props to Alan for taking time with everyone, including a ten year old girl who got a drumstick from Kris and the setlist. Alan autographed the setlist and got a picture. He also spoke for a bit with your dear author, whom he remembered from a meeting a very long time ago. 

If you’re like me and lost track of Great Big Sea and their members, Alan has two solo albums (“Boy on Bridge” from 2012 and the aforementioned “So Let’s Go” from 2015) and he’s also written a book. If Alan Doyle, the self-proclaimed ‘Prince of Newfoundland’ and his band of Beautiful Gypsies land in your town, go see him and say hello. It’s a good time, I promise. 


Thanks for reading. 

Barry

Garth, Trisha & All the Hits (11.12.16 @ Richmond Coliseum)

Garth Brooks is that rare artist that transcends genres, while still seeming to remain true to his roots. He’s a country singer of ‘Cowboy Songs’, he’s a troubadour in the tradition of James Taylor, and he’s a consummate showman onstage. Perhaps what gets lost in the spectacle of his current world tour is that Garth Brooks is one of the best American songwriters of the last thirty years. 

Photo by the author


Brooks and his wife Trisha Yearwood (a top-notch performer in her own right) stopped by Richmond this weekend to play an astounding four sold out shows in three days at the Coliseum. The stage was one that allowed every seat in the arena a view (even behind the stage) and Brooks, sporting his famous cowboy hat and headset mic, was so frenetic, running to all areas of the stage, that it was easy to lose sight of where he was actually standing. Yes, the stage, the presentation and Brooks’ persona were big, but it’s the songs that keep the fans coming back in droves some nineteen years since he last played the city.

Photo by Dana Kiser

In 1991 when his album ‘Ropin’ The Wind’ was released, I was a full blown Metal Head, more likely to be listening to Metallica, Overkill or Danzig. But, thanks to my friend Eddie, with whom I rode to school each morning of the 1991-92 school year, even I had to admit that Garth was one hell of a songwriter and performer. Literally every day for two months straight, our morning school commute music was side one of ‘Ropin’ The Wind’, so I got to know those songs very well, and I liked them.

 

Last night, as I was part of a raucous and loud sold out crowd who knew all the words to every song, I thought a lot about that senior year of high school and about my friend Eddie. Music is memory and the memories were very thick as I sang along to “Friends in Low Places” and “The Thunder Rolls.” I felt very fortunate to see this show, and witness a performer who’s at that age now where he seems to fully appreciate all of the adulation and love his fans give him, and every night (sometimes twice in one day) for two and a half hours, he does all he can to reciprocate.

The setlist (mostly from memory, so apologies if it’s inaccurate):

Man Against Machine

Beaches of Cheyenne

Rodeo

Two of a Kind, Workin’ on a Full House

The River

Two Piña Coladas

Papa Loved Mama

Ain’t Goin’ Down (‘Til the Sun Comes Up)

Unanswered Prayers

That Summer

The Thunder Rolls

In Another’s Eyes (w/Trisha Yearwood)

Trisha Yearwood Set:

XXX’s and OOO’s (An American Girl)

How Do I Live

PrizeFighter

Georgia Rain

She’s in Love With the Boy

Garth Brooks Second Set

Shameless

Callin’ Baton Rouge

Friends in Low Places

Night Moves

Piano Man

The Dance

Encore

Wrapped Up in You

Mom

Standing Outside the Fire

 

In closing, it was a pleasure to see a performer who was genuinely having a blast on stage. Brooks and his band have been together for 20+ years and the sense of ‘family’ was palpable. This week was one of the most absurd, strangest weeks I have ever had (that did not involve a morphine drip). It was refreshing to simply be able to go out, have a good time, and realize that I had at least one thing in common with 11,000 other people in my city on a Saturday night. Music has a way of doing that, and I thank Garth for being the facilitator of that.

 

As always, thanks to Dana, and thanks to you for reading,

Barry

Elvis Costello Welcomes One And All Into His Imperial Bedroom [Warner Theatre; Washington DC 11.03.16]

Sometimes artists record albums to make a cohesive, singular statement. Sometimes, the LP is simply a collection of what the writer has laying around that he hasn’t used yet, but, for the most part, when an album is released, unless it is a ‘concept album’ like The Who’s ‘Quadrophenia’ or Pink Floyd’s ‘The Wall’, the artist never intends to perform the entire record in front of a live audience. In early 2016, Bruce Springsteen embarked on ‘The River Tour’ in which he played his entire two-record set from start to finish. By the time the second leg of the tour finished, that idea was abandoned, simply because the pacing of a record does not always make for great pacing in a live setting. 

Which brings us to Elvis Costello’s latest US tour, which stopped in DC last night; entitled ‘Imperial Bedroom and other Chambers’, Elvis and his band The Imposters promised to play the entire ‘Imperial Bedroom’ album, along with other songs from all eras of his career. And, the first thing Elvis got right that The Boss did not is, he chose not to play the songs in running order, which would have made for a very strange live show. Knowing before the show began that I would hear ‘You Little Fool’ and ‘Man Out of Time’, two of my all-time favorite Costello songs, I was extremely excited to see what the evening would bring as my friend Dana and I made our way inside the beautiful Warner Theatre.

 

Elvis kicked things off with a very deep cut, and a song not from ‘Imperial Bedroom’. Instead he started the evening with ‘Town Where Time Stood Still’ from the ‘Punch the Clock’ album. I admit, it was one I did not immediately recognize until the chorus showed up, and even then, the initial sound mix made the lyrics a bit hard to understand. If the audience wasn’t really sure what to make of the opener, that was soon corrected when drummer extraordinaire Pete Thomas launched into ‘Lipstick Vogue’, played at breakneck speed.

Before launching into the first ‘Imperial Bedroom’ selection of the night, ‘The Loved Ones’ Elvis asked the crowd ‘Are we sick of this yet?’ The audience seemed perplexed, as the show was just getting started. ‘I don’t mean the show, you know what I mean! Are we sick of this yet?!’ he clarified, to which the crowd roared their approval.

Photo by Dana Kiser

A word about the album ‘Imperial Bedroom’: It was released in July 1982, only eight months after Elvis had released an album made up entirely of covers of classic country music, which puzzled many of his fans, who expected the ‘Angry Young Man’ of ‘Armed Forces’ or ‘This Year’s Model’. ‘Imperial Bedroom’ is not for everyone, and it doesn’t have many instantly recognizable radio hits that the casual fan would recognize. For all that the album may not be, it does in fact contain Costello’s strongest lyrics to date, perhaps ever. Here is one example, from the standout track ‘Man Out of Time”:

There`s a tuppeny hapenny millionaire

Looking for a fourpenny one

With a tight grip on the short hairs

Of the public imagination

But for his private wife and kids somehow

Real life becomes a rumour

Days of dutch courage

Just three French letters and a German sense of humour

He`s got a mind like a sewer and a heart like a fridge

He stands to be insulted and he pays for the privilege

 

Almost every track on the album demonstrates Costello’s lyrical acumen, and if the public at large weren’t ready to follow him, he didn’t care. Thankfully the record has been repackaged and rereleased several times over the last twenty years, allowing fans to rediscover and appreciate it, and I think today the album, rightfully so, is considered one of the best in Elvis’ 40+ year career. Playing all of the songs live was no small feat, but for those lucky 1400 fans in attendance, it made for a very memorable evening.

 

Here’s the setlist, then some thoughts:

 

The Town Where Time Stood Still

Lipstick Vogue

On Your Way Down

The Loved Ones

Accidents Will Happen

You’ll Never Be a Man

Tears Before Bedtime

Moods for Moderns

This House Is Empty Now

Shabby Doll

Green Shirt

Human Hands

Watching the Detectives

The Long Honeymoon

Pills and Soap

Hand in Hand

High Fidelity

You Little Fool

Pidgin English

Encore:

Alison

Shot With His Own Gun

Almost Blue

Kid About It

…And in Every Home

Beyond Belief

Man Out of Time

Encore 2:

Town Cryer

Everyday I Write the Book

Encore 3:

Blood & Hot Sauce

A Face in the Crowd

American Mirror

(I Don’t Want to Go to) Chelsea

Pump It Up

(What’s So Funny ’bout) Peace, Love and Understanding

 

Photo by the author

Mid-set, hearing, in this order ‘Pills and Soap’ (again, a song that is an acquired taste), ‘Hand In Hand’, ‘Hi Fidelity’ and ‘You Little Fool’ was the portion of the show that seemed to be directed right at me! Hearing those songs all in a row, almost without even a break to differentiate where one ended and the next began, was a wonderful moment for this longtime fan.

 

While the set mostly consisted of material originally performed by Elvis & The Attractions, along with one of his collaborations with Burt Bacharach, the evening wasn’t completely about nostalgia. Costello is working on a musical adaptation of the 1957 film ‘A Face in the Crowd’ which starred Andy Griffith as a man who rises from the gutter to the halls of power. (If you’ve never seen the film, I highly recommend it). Elvis showcased three songs from the production, which definitely gave the proceedings a political undertone.

 A shout out to the mad musical genius that is piano/keyboard player Steve Nieve. His showcase piece of the evening was a charged and tense rendition of “Shot With His Own Gun”. Thomas, Nieve and bass player Davey Faragher (the “new guy” who’s been with the others for about fifteen years) were on point throughout the night, helping to keep things moving. 

The second to last song of the night was the crowd pleaser ‘Pump It Up’ which had everyone dancing, regardless of their politics and then he closed the night with a song written by Nick Lowe and recorded by Elvis in 1978. The song of course was ‘(What’s So Funny ‘bout) Peace Love & Understanding’ and, I cannot think of a more appropriate song (or question for that matter) given the current climate. It’s quite a feat when a song originally written in 1974 is now, forty-two years later, even more frighteningly relevant than I think its author or the evening’s performer could have ever possibly imagined.

 

As I walk on through this wicked world,

Searching for light in the darkness of insanity,

I ask myself, Is all hope lost? 

Is there only pain, and hatred, and misery?

And each time I feel like this inside,

There’s one thing I wanna know,

What’s so funny ’bout peace, love, and understanding?

 

Thanks as always to Dana for attending this show with me, and thank you very much for reading.

Barry

Fun in the Sun with The Cure

Last week I was lucky enough to see two shows by The Cure on their current summer tour. Here are my thoughts on both shows:

Show #1: Merriweather Post Pavilion; Columbia, MD 06.22.16

“I’ve waited hours for this…”

My friend Sean, his high school friend Shannon and I had lawn tickets for this show, which meant arriving before the gates opened. We showed up about an hour before the gates were scheduled to open and stood in a very long line. My first thought on walking the grounds was that I did not recall MWPP being so hilly with so many steep inclines. As soon as the gates opened and we made our way inside, Sean and Shannon shot past me to go claim a spot on the lawn, and they did a fantastic job staking out our space; in the very front, parallel to the sidewalk, in view of the huge screen on the back of the pavilion, and, where I would stand was primarily flat. I don’t do lawn seats often, but I didn’t mind this setup at all.

The second thought I had as I walked the concourse and waited in line to buy a t-shirt was that there were so many kids in attendance of all ages. Did I miss something? I haven’t seen The Cure live in concert since 2008, but since then, have Robert Smith and Company become a ‘Family Entertainment Ticket’?

The Cure have been around since 1979, and they have gone through many lineup changes and styles; some fans prefer the pop of ‘Close To Me’ and ‘Friday I’m In Love’ while others, including your dear author prefer the minimalist sounds of ‘One Hundred Years’ and ‘Faith,’ so it is impossible to please everyone at a Cure show; they are going to play a song you wish they had skipped, and they won’t play all the ones you wanna hear, but I can promise even the most casual of fans that they will play something you like and at least one song you know.

After a 30 minute set by openers The Twilight Sad, and a break to get the stage ready for the headliners, the show began with the pre-recorded intro ‘Tape’ which was first used on the 1992 Wish Tour. The band members ambled onstage and Robert played guitar harmonics along with the recording and then led into ‘Open’, which opened the Wish album (and for good measure is always played in tandem with ‘Tape.’). The album that got the most songs played on this night was ‘Head on the Door’, which is appropriate. There are a lot of albums released by The Cure that remind listeners of cold unforgiving winters, but ‘Head on the Door’ is one of those great records that evokes summertime and happiness (or at least, a Goth’s version of happiness).

There were plenty of surprises, but the biggest surprise of this show came about forty-five minutes in, just as the sun had finished setting, when the band began the long atmospheric intro to ‘If Only Tonight We Could Sleep’ from the ‘Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me’ album. That was a concert moment I did not expect and one that did not disappoint.

The band now has been together in this lineup since 2012, and they are a well-oiled touring machine. Robert still is Master of Ceremonies, standing in front of the mic, and not really moving around all that much. Keyboardist Roger O’Donnell and lead guitarist Reeves Gabrels are anchored stage right and left respectively, and drummer Jason Cooper is behind the kit. That leaves the ageless wonder that is bassist Simon Gallup as the only member who moves around on stage, and he’s a non-stop display of kinetic energy ping ponging close to Robert during solos, then moving toward Roger’s area and even a few times standing behind Reeves. I remember watching the concert film ‘Show’ which is from 1992, and loved how energetic Simon seemed onstage. I was thrilled to see 24 years later, he’s still the one who can’t stand still.

Seeing the show from the lawn meant that we could not really see the stage, but I didn’t mind. The screen above us had a good stage-wide shot, and, it’s not like the band is all that visually striking. The audio mix was fantastic for an outdoor venue, so I didn’t lose any lyrics being out on the lawn. Being on the lawn also meant a lot of people watching as fans crossed in front of me en route to the concession stands, the bathrooms or their patch of lawn. Lots of people dressed in all black for an outdoor show where the high was 93 degrees. Yes I myself considering wearing a classic Cure Tour shirt from 2008, but it was black and I knew I would sweat through it before the show even started. Something seems wrong seeing this band in particular at an outdoor venue, but despite the heat, they played non-stop for about two hours and forty-five minutes. They played the hits, a fair amount of deep cuts and B-sides that played well to an outdoor crowd that really wanted to dance. One of my favorite moments was when the band began ‘Just Like Heaven’, the single that made them MTV darlings in 1987. As the guitar intro segued into the opening line, I looked back behind me to the lawn, swarming with people, and reveled in hearing thousands of jubilant voices sing “Show me, show me, show me/How you do that trick!” It was one of those moments that could only be fully appreciated from the lawn, because it proved that, even though we couldn’t really see what was going on onstage, we were still part of the show.
The set list (from setlist.fm):
Tape
Open
High
Pictures of You
Closedown
Kyoto Song
A Night Like This
The Walk
The End of the World
Lovesong
If Only Tonight We Could Sleep
All I Want
Push
In Between Days
Just Like Heaven
Bananafishbones
Never Enough
From the Edge of the Deep Green Sea
End
Encore:
Sinking
It Can Never Be the Same
Encore 2:
Shake Dog Shake
Burn
A Forest
Encore 3:
Dressing Up
Lullaby
Fascination Street
Wrong Number
Encore 4:
Hot Hot Hot!!!
Let’s Go to Bed
Close to Me
Why Can’t I Be You?
Boys Don’t Cry

Some thoughts on specific songs:
I’ve never been a fan of ‘The Walk’ but it must be one of Robert’s faves, because it’s being played at almost every stop. Even though it’s not one of my favorites, seeing Jason do the drum fills was fun, and, as usual Simon was all over the stage for this one.

While the encores change nightly, the last three songs are pretty much set in stone. The trifecta of ‘Close To Me’, ‘Why Can’t I Be You’ and ‘Boys Don’t Cry’ ensures that fans leave the show happy and singing as they head to the parking lot.

Thanks again to Sean for driving and for getting tickets, and it was a pleasure to meet Shannon and see this show with her.

And then on Friday, there was…
Show #2: Lakewood Amphitheatre; Atlanta, GA 06.24.16

“Hot! Hot! Hot!’ [Indeed!]
Whoever thought it was a good idea to book The Cure on a tour of outdoor venues that landed in the Southern US in late June should be fired! Don’t get me wrong, no matter the venue (and, as venues go, Lakewood is my least favorite) the circumstances, The Cure deliver. This show though might have pushed the band to their limit, as the temperatures were in the high 90s at showtime and only went down slightly (it was 85 degrees as I made my way to the parking lot at the end of the show, according to my phone’s weather app). How hot was it? As Robert prepared to play ‘A Night Like This’ he stated ‘It’s [explicative] hot!!” I am almost certain the word he said was ‘f***ing’ but my friend Mimi heard ‘bloody’. Either way, it was a truly unscripted moment.

When I saw The Cure for the first time in 1992, they opened with ‘Tape’/’Open’/’High’ so the show in Maryland was a nice flashback. When I saw the band a second time in 2008, they opened with ‘Plainsong’, which was what began the festivsties on this night in Georgia. I was really hoping that opening with that song meant that the show would feature a few songs from 1989’s ‘Disintegration’ album, and I was not disappointed. Without further ado, here is the set list for the Atlanta show. Nothing from ‘Pornography’ but an epic NINE songs from ‘Disintegration’!

Plainsong
Pictures of You
Closedown
High
A Night Like This
Push
In Between Days
Last Dance
The End of the World
Lovesong
Just Like Heaven
Jupiter Crash
From the Edge of the Deep Green Sea
Want
The Hungry Ghost
Prayers for Rain
Disintegration
Encore:
Shake Dog Shake
Burn
A Forest
Encore 2:
Lullaby
Fascination Street
Wrong Number
Encore 3:
The Walk
Doing the Unstuck
Friday I’m in Love
Encore 4:
The Perfect Girl
Hot Hot Hot!!!
Close to Me
Why Can’t I Be You?
Boys Don’t Cry

Even though I may have very well seen the only two shows on the entire US tour that did not feature either a song from ‘Pornography’ or ‘Faith’, the fact that ‘Disintegration’ was so well represented made Atlanta a special show. (As an aside, the very next show Sunday in Miami featured an encore that was simply four songs from ‘Pornography’! GAH!!! Maybe I’ll see something like that next time.)

Some thoughts on specific songs:

It’s great that ‘Burn’ a track released on the soundtrack to ‘The Crow’ is being played regularly. Smith has called it ‘Son of ‘Hanging Garden’’ so that was as close as I got to hearing a track from ‘Pornography’. Hearing it live, it really does fit well amongst the more upbeat numbers in the set and is placed wonderfully, right before ‘A Forest’.

‘Wrong Number’ must be one of Robert’s personal favorites. It was a bonus track stuck on their singles compilation ‘Galore’ in 1997 and again on their 2001 ‘Greatest Hits’ disc, and yet it seems every recent tour, the song has been a staple of the set. It’s not a bad song; it just surprises me that this song is a staple when there are so many other (better) songs to choose from.

Hearing the title track to ‘Disintegration’ in concert, no matter how many times it happens for me, will always make me smile and scream in unrestrained joy. This was one of the songs where Simon’s bass was so loud I felt it vibrating in my chest. Hearing that song alone was worth my ticket; the other thirty songs were a fantastic bonus!

Also of note, the band played two songs from the album ‘Wild Mood Swings’, a record that had been underrepresented thus far on tour (Jupiter Crash and Want). Those are both favorites of mine and it was great to hear them live, especially ‘Want’.

Robert recently turned 57 years old, and yet his voice still sounds very much like it did 30 years ago. He may not hit the high notes as hard as he once did, and occasionally he may have to go down an octave from the recorded version, but his voice on both nights was strong and sure. This lineup of The Cure seems like it could go on for as long as Robert wants it to. Look for a new album at some point late this year or early in 2017, and if we are lucky, another tour before too long.

Extra special thanks to Mimi for driving five hours to Atlanta to see this show with me. It was fantastic to see this band and this show with you, despite the heat and the venue’s total lack of charm.  Also thanks to my friend Tony, who introduced me to the music of The Cure twenty-five years ago, even though I wasn’t as much a fan as a captive passenger riding shotgun in his car.  My love and fandom for The Cure would not have happened without you. (It’s a really funny story that my friends have heard several times but I have never written a blog post about it. I’ll get around to that at some point.)

Thanks very much for reading.