The Cure
As of press time, this show has been rescheduled. The Cure will play solo on Tuesday, August 31 at the Everett Event Center at 8pm.

It's entirely appropriate that the Cure's arena-sized traveling festival is taking place in America, and not in their country of birth. Like fellow new wave pioneers Depeche Mode, Robert Smith's black- clad institution has long enjoyed collegiate cachet stateside while being underappreciated by the fickle London music press. At home, Crawley's finest were dismissed as suburban Joy Division copyists when their debut LP, Three Imaginary Boys, dropped in 1979. Later on, the massive goth subculture they helped inspire was second only to heavy metal in terms of British tribal ridicule. Hell, some mean-spirited hack even coined the nickname "Fat Bob" when the lipstick- and mascara-toting frontman started looking, um, healthier than a gothic figurehead perhaps should.

A quarter of a century down the line, the brickbats have morphed into bouquets. Smith is now acknowledged as one of the few remaining icons of British rock 'n' roll, having outlasted and outsold all his cooler post-punk peers (Siouxsie, PiL, et al.). The Cure's shadow falls across the entire alt-rock spectrum, as shown by this tour's bumper supporting cast, which includes Brooklyn's dapper gloom merchants Interpol and dance-punk sensations the Rapture (whose singer Luke Jenner sounds uncannily like Smith), plus melancholy Scottish instrumentalists Mogwai.

Interpol bassist Carlos Dengler says being askedto play was "like being asked by your favorite writer to write a short story for a compendium he or she is organizing." Mogwai leader Stuart Braithwaite fell for the headliners as a preteen, and freely admits their influence on his own music: "The use of minimalism on the early records--Seventeen Seconds, Faith--was what we mostly took from them."

Given the Cure's anguished vocals and introspective lyrics, it's logical that sensitive indie bands are enthusiastic. What's more surprising about the veteran group's current stature is the way the heavier aspects of their delivery--icy keyboard textures, apocalyptic bass lines--have seeped into indie music's traditional genre nemesis: heavy metal (or at least the whining tripe that passes for contemporary metal these days). Angst-ridden unit-shifters Deftones based their downtuned melodrama on 1982's monumentally claustrophobic Pornography, while the emo/post- hardcore scene--represented at this date by Glassjaw spinoff Head Automatica--owes its tear-stained outlook to both the Cure and that other great English miserablist, Morrissey. Alas, none of today's studded-belt-wearing clones have absorbed their forerunners' ability to pen a decent tune.

Smith has also had a remarkable impact on contemporary fashion, with Marilyn Manson, goth-punks AFI, and taciturn mallrats nationwide emulating his pasty-faced, panda-eyed style (though sadly not his fondness for outsized sweaters). The man should have shares in Hot Topic.

And in the same way that the Stooges and MC5 have gotten back together while the garage-rock bandwagon still has wheels, it makes sense that the Cure should resurface now, before the '80s new wave revival collapses under the weight of its own ubiquity (see godawful buzz band the Killers, who were unsuccessfully sought for Curiosa).

Despite insisting that 2000's overly portentous Bloodflowers was his swan song, Smith has even cut a new album--produced, aptly enough, by nu-metal/ post-hardcore desk jockey Ross Robinson. Whereas its predecessor was designed as the final part of a doom-laden trilogy begun by Pornography and the chart-busting Disintegration (1989), The Cure aims for the light-and-shade construction of pop masterpieces The Head on the Door (1985) and Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me (1987). Indeed, when the band takes to the stage you can expect a generous share of the hits, those colorful, kid-naive gems--"In Between Days," "Boys Don't Cry"--which have achieved classic status even among nondevotees.

It's the mark of an artist who's both comfortable with his legacy and keenly aware of what's made him successful. Save for a brief period of acid-addled wobbliness circa 1984's The Top, the famously disheveled figure under the spotlight has always come across as an affable, regular bloke. The man behind the smudged makeup is happily married, likes a drink, and supports a middling soccer team (West London underdogs Queens Park Rangers). He may be hip now, but Robert Smith did it his way--by following his heart, rather than fashion. There's a lesson in there somewhere.

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