Review: The Cure play epic Blaisdell show

Jul. 31, 2013 | 4 Comments
Robert Smith and The Cure made their Hawaii concert debut at Blaisdell Arena on Tuesday, July 30. (Photo by Joah Buley, Special to the Star-Advertiser)

Robert Smith and The Cure made their Hawaii concert debut at Blaisdell Arena on Tuesday, July 30. (Photo by Joah Buley, Special to the Star-Advertiser)

REVIEW BY JOHN BERGER / jberger@staradvertiser.com

Fans who hoped — and alternately feared — The Cure would play a multi-hour show were fulfilled last night, July 30, as founding member Robert Smith led the quintet through a high-decibel, three-hour performance before a full house at Blaisdell Arena.

The “fearful” fans were the ones with jobs that require them to be up and productive by mid-morning; the “hopeful” were everyone else. Either way, Smith and his partners — Jason Cooper (drums), Reeves Gabrels (guitar), Simon Gallup (bass) and Roger O’Donnell (keyboards) — gave Hawaii fans their money’s worth. It isn’t often these days that we see a headliner act of any musical genre play a three-hour show, and its been a long, long time since a show ran until a 11:45 p.m. at the Blaisdell.

The Cure came on stage with no announcement or formal introduction at 8:45 p.m. With the exception of two brief, pro forma departures to separate the two encores from the main set, they played straight through for the next three hours. Fans in the double letter sections on the arena floor — AA, BB and CC — remained standing for the duration. Fans a little further back were so into it that risers were shaking and vibrating for much of the show as well.

“Was that an earthquake at the Blaisdell last night?”

No, just fans making things shake as they rocked out to The Cure.

The Cure perform at Blaisdell Arena on Tuesday, July 30. (Photo by Joah Buley, Special to the Star-Advertiser)

The Cure perform at Blaisdell Arena on Tuesday, July 30. (Photo by Joah Buley, Special to the Star-Advertiser)

Give The Cure big props for thoroughness. The set list included their three top 40 hits on the American charts (“Love Song,” “Friday I’m In Love” and “Just Like Heaven”), almost every other song that made the Billboard Hot 100 or “bubbled” under it from 1983 through 2012, and many many others — including some memories from the early days.

Smith presided in fine style, his iconic tousled hair recognizable even from a distance. He spent almost all the show at center stage but thrilled the fans seated off to the sides when he walked stage left all the way to one corner of the stage, stood there momentarily for fan photos, then crossed the stage right to the far corner and repeated the process. He said almost nothing between songs aside from a few “thank yous” and let his lyrics speak for him.

Smith and the other members of the front four were a striking contrast in hairstyles. Gabrels’ blonde hair was cut short. O’Donnell wore his long and straight. Gallup was sporting a 1950′s style “greaser” hairdo reminiscent of the Stray Cats. Gallup, in motion almost non-stop the entire evening, was a charismatic showman in his own right.

Synchronized lighting programs enhanced the performance. The audio mix was something else. The rhythm section — Gallup’s thunderous bass overwhelmingly — dominated the audio for much of the show. Fortunately, Smith’s voice generally came through the bass-and-drums wall-of-sound mix. From the second hour onward, the guitars and O’Donnell’s keyboards could be heard a bit more clearly from time to time, sometimes even when Gallup was playing.

Someone did Clones of the Queen a big favor by adding an opening act to the show. No disrespect to the local talent, as they’re certainly on their way to bigger things and it was a big night for them — but The Cure needed no help to fill a venue the size of Blaisdell Arena, or to give Hawaii an unforgettable milestone event.
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John Berger has been a mainstay in the local entertainment scene for more than 40 years. Contact him via email at jberger@staradvertiser.com.

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PICS: The Cure at Blaisdell Arena

  • jodylurka

    Great three hour performance. Just like heaven!

  • Daniel Alvarez

    The BEST of the 4 times I saw The Cure, which includes the 2009 Coachella Festival headlining spot..where they were “unplugged” by promoter Goldenvoice…..because it was 1:00 am! Mahalo BAMP for bringing The Cure to Hawaii!

  • rarnedsoum

    Too long.

    • Liz

      No such thing. It’s called ‘see yourself to the exit’.