Flashback: The Cure @ the Hollywood Bowl on 05.22.16

I’ve been sitting on this Cure post for a few months now. It’s an older show, back from 2016. I originally thought I’d use it in January, during the typically slow month for live performances. Hence, the “flashback” moniker, intended to focus remembrance and reverence for outstanding shows from prior years … meaning before I started this blog.

And I almost did post it, when my intentions coincidentally coincided with The Cure announcing the 30th anniversary of their landmark LP “Disintegration” with a series of performances in Sydney next month.

Well … damn you, Australia! “Disintegration” still ranks as my favorite all-time Cure albums. And although I did attend the original tour back in the day, and they played a good deal of it at the Hollywood Bowl show that’s the crux of this post, I would still love to see it performed in its entirety from beginning to end one more time.

Anyway, I obviously didn’t post this one back then. And following numerous failed attempts, typically amounting to me just not being in the mood, I finally found inspiration through discovering that The Cure were inducted into the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame last Friday. It’s only taken about 40 years. But I guess better late than never. And they do deserve to be there.

The Cure have never relented to compromise, their music remaining distinctly and unmistakably their own. Most of that credit goes to Robert Smith, who’s been the one constant throughout the band’s remarkable totality. His unmatched voice alone is the defining masterstroke in pretty much everything they create, not to mention his effortless guitar-craft, which celebrates intricacy and eccentricity without caving in to the typical solo showmanship.

My first encounters with The Cure date pretty far back. Don’t recall the exact year. But I do remember the first thing I heard was the live album “Concert: The Cure Live,” which came out in 1984. It was later than ’84, obviously. But I heard it on an audio cassette, so that pretty much dates it. As you can probably imagine, the audio quality was unique to the medium and the era, which in my youth, only added to the mystique. That release ultimately was my gateway drug. It opened the floodgates to a world of possibilities in alternative music. It didn’t even exist on the same planet as the mainstream, and that suited me just fine.

To make a long story short, although it’s probably too late for that, I’ve been following The Cure ever since. I haven’t always favored everything they’ve done. But up until “Distintegration,” which as I mentioned is still my favorite, I find their track record pretty much spotless. There’s plenty I’ve liked since then, but more fits and spurts versus entire album offerings. I love “From the Edge of the Deep Green Sea” on “Wish.” “Wild Mood Swings” is a bit hazy in my memory. “Bloodflowers” is a solid release that I enjoy everytime I hear it. But I can’t pinpoint one track or another in particular that really shakes the foundations. You get the general idea.

That said, hearing any and all of the post-“Disintegration” material live is another story. It almost makes a sort of sense as to why it exists. And alongside it’s pre-“Disintegration” counterparts, it just works as another chapter in The Cure catalogue. Amazingly, The Cure still perform for upwards to three and a half hours, which this Hollywood Bowl show clocked in at. And none of the setlist felt like filler, which is really saying something. Plus, this was the first of three nights, and the other two nights featured different selections, nearly half of the songs being unique to that particular night. Makes me wish I went to all of them.

From what I could gather, the focus was on albums and era. For my attendance, and thank the universe for that, the focus was “Disintegration,” of which there were eight songs, “Head on the Door” and “Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me,” of which there were four each, and even a little bit of “The Top,” which totaled three. Plus, they played a eclectic smattering of early and later material that would leave any longtime Cure fan smiling long after the house lights went on.

I think the show topped out at 32 songs, two being completely new … and as of today, still haven’t seen a release, unless of course, you count the YouTube bootlegs. Although, we might get a chance to hear the official recordings at some point this year, as The Cure have promised the release of a new album, their first since 2008. Let’s hope it sees the light of day.

I’ve not going to list everything they played at this show. But I have included a playlist of their setlist, which should suffice. It’s missing the aforementioned new tracks, which are titled “It Can Never Be the Same” and “Step Into the Light.” Also, I’ve got some iPhone 6s quality footage of a few classic songs they performed, including “Pictures of You,” “Just Like Heaven,” ” A Forest,” “Lovecats,” “Fascination Street,” “Shake Dog Shake” (R.I.P. Andy Anderson),” and a few others. Most of these tracks are complete recordings, but a couple might be partial. I dug them up from my archives, so thankfully, I’m able to share what’s here. It’s worth getting them out into the world, before I accidentally lose them.

So without further delay, here’s The Cure’s performance, in part, at the Hollywood Bowl on May 22, 2016.

The Cure perform “Pictures of You” @ the Hollywood Bowl on 05.22.16.

The Cure perform “Just Like Heaven” @ the Hollywood Bowl on 05.22.16.

The Cure perform “Push” @ the Hollywood Bowl on 05.22.16.

The Cure perform “All I Want” @ the Hollywood Bowl on 05.22.16.

The Cure perform “A Forest” @ the Hollywood Bowl on 05.22.16.

The Cure perform “Shake Dog Shake” @ the Hollywood Bowl on 05.22.16.

The Cure perform “Lovecats” @ the Hollywood Bowl on 05.22.16.

The Cure perform “Fascination Street” @ the Hollywood Bowl on 05.22.16.

The Cure perform “A Night Like This” @ the Hollywood Bowl on 05.22.16.

And here’s the full setlist, minus the two new unreleased tracks, “It Can Never Be the Same” and “Step Into the Light.”

You know, revisiting all of this material, I really do hope they come back for another tour of the states. Maybe we might even get one of those “Disintegration” shows. Or better yet, one their trilogy shows, where they play three albums in their entirety.

On a side note, I had the chance to see them do this with “Faith,” “Seventeen Seconds,” and “Three Imaginary Boys,” with additional material from the “Japanese Whispers” EP and the compilation “Boys Don’t Cry.” It was back in 2011, billed as the “Reflections” tour, with three nights at the Pantages Theatre in Hollywood. It topped out at a whopping 45 songs.

Until one, or the other, or the other other, materializes, enjoy this flashback setlist for the first night of The Cure’s Hollywood Bowl show from 2016.