Late Saturday (June 18), as The Cure began its third encore in a show marking the start of a sold-out three-night run at Madison Square Garden in New York City, bandleader Robert Smith joked about how nobody understands his stage patter.
"Honestly, I speak very f--king clearly," said the 57-year-old singer, songwriter, guitarist, and between-song mumbler. Luckily for him, no one goes to a Cure concert in 2016 hoping to hear quippy little intros to "Friday I’m In Love." A lot of fans don’t even come for "Friday I’m In Love," though even B-side-prizing diehards can’t deny the power of that song, or "Just Like Heaven," or any of the other pop crossovers found throughout this iconic U.K. post-punk band’s catalog. Most of the big singles turned up in Saturday’s set, and they’re all part of what makes the group so different from The Smiths, Depeche Mode, Echo and the Bunnymen, and all the other mopey British acts it’s frequently compared to.
The real reason to catch The Cure on this trek, its first major tour since 2008, is the confidence with which Smith presides over his brand. If he’s Hugh Grant on the banter tip, he’s Laurence Olivier once the music gets going. Rocking his trademark tangle of black hair and baggy black-on-black goth-casual attire, Smith opened the show with “Plainsong,” “Pictures of You,” and “Closedown”—the first three tracks on 1989’s twinkling, thundering masterwork Disintegration.