If there’s one absolute tenet of rock and roll awesomeness, it’s the ability to hold sway over large swaths of people that have nothing but music in common. As many talented groups as there are, only a rare few hold such universal appeal. The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, and the Rolling Stones are quick examples of this. The '80s produced one such paragon in the Cure, as the moody English legends proved last night at Bayfront Park Amphitheatre.
The evening’s opener, the Twilight Sad, lived up to their band name. The Scottish outfit were, by and large, a dreary, gloomy wall of sound whose sole function was to provide background music to people taking their seats or grabbing any available real estate on the lawn, which is any opener's duty, really.
Comfortable grassy spots were at a premium considering how packed Bayfront was. The crazy part is how Sunday was the first of two sold-out shows in the Cure’s final stop in the United States. After Miami, the band will leave for Hawaii and then the rest of the world. This last hurrah stateside was to be one for the ages. Not that longtime Cure fans would expect any less. They were in attendance last night and easily recognizable. The old school was quickly identified in one of three ways: the oppressive amount of black clothing that ignored the sweltering heat and humidity; tour shirts from 1986 or thereabouts; or skin so pale, it’s hard to fathom how they weren't being rolled around in bathtubs full of sunscreen.
But perhaps that’s being disingenuous. Truthfully, the crowd was mightily diverse. Once the Cure took the stage, the eyeliner was smeared and washed away by the torrent of cheers. In fact, for nearly every song, upon hearing the opening notes, the audience was torn asunder in pure joy, and with a set list this long, there was plenty to celebrate. Robert Smith and the Cure went on just after 8 p.m. and didn’t leave until they were damn near kicked out of downtown Miami a few minutes after 11, when the city’s curfew took hold. It was a grandiose, career-spanning three-hour set that touched upon not just the hits, but the deep cuts as well. “Boys Don’t Cry,” “In Between Days,” and “Lovesong” all made appearances, but so did tracks like “Burn,” best known for its leading spot on The Crow soundtrack.
The massive crowd in attendance, truly rivaled only by Ultra in both size and scope, was as international as the vaunted EDM fest. English, Dutch, French, Spanish – all manner of tongues sang along to “Just Like Heaven” and “Pictures of You” and spoke the same language of excitement. People flew in from the Caribbean and beyond for this once-in-a-decade experience. The audience was fueled by what was a straight-up, pure, and unadulterated rock show. Smith hardly addressed the crowd, preferring to power through a mind-boggling 34-song set that consistently churned out one fan favorite after the next while intermittently firing off a few salvos from their greatest hits that every man, woman, and child with ears could recognize. Regardless of the genre the Cure inhabit – goth, new wave, pop, or psych-rock – they are a band that is both a product of its time and a band that is utterly timeless. Plop them anywhere on the rock and roll timeline after 1963, and they unequivocally belong and yet are simultaneously are out of place, shaking things up.
Speaking of things that are timeless, Smith himself may look like a man in his 50s, but he sure as hell doesn’t sound like one. There is virtually no difference in his voice between now and when he first wrote “The Walk” in 1983. (Yes, they played that too.)
It was a testament to the group's commitment as well as its ceaseless energy that by the time the Cure completed the fourth and final encore, exhausted smiles lit up the Miami skyline as much as the glowing skyscrapers.
And somehow, tonight, they’re going to do it all over again.