the cure

The Cure in Wonderland

May 19, The Chelsea at the Cosmopolitan

Those who lament Las Vegas’ apparent inability to show touring acts or cult bands enough love couldn’t say a single bad thing about The Cure’s latest Vegas visit. Their gig at the Chelsea sold out within minutes, much to the weeping and gnashing of teeth of countless “since high school” fans. Those lucky enough to score tickets got nearly three hours of Cure classics, as well as a few less-expected cuts.

The band opened with “Plainsong,” whose epic yet ethereal tones unfurled throughout the space, putting dazzled expressions on the audiences’ faces and setting the evening’s otherworldly tone. Frontman and bandleader Robert Smith is that rare musician who’s equally at ease with morose epic weepers and whimsical finger-poppers, sort of an Edgar Allan Pierrot. “The Caterpillar” bounced with off-kilter cascades of piano like Alice falling down the rabbit hole. That which takes Tim Burton hundreds of people and millions in CGI to create, Smith can do with a few chords and a gesture.

“Hot Hot Hot!!!” got the Vegas treatment with flashing red and orange lights and an boisterously slinky rhythm worthy of Tom Jones, while “Never Enough” was a spinning cacophony that only Smith could bring to heel with his strangled “It’s never enough” before sending the band whizzing into orbit again. The Cure subtly altered many of the songs, playing with the timing and expression to make the familiar just a little different. As the band closed with “Boys Don’t Cry,” Smith thanked the audience and told us he’d be back. We can’t wait, Robert. But maybe play two nights next time? Hell, for The Cure, Vegas might even be able to sell out three. ★★★★

Photos by Erik Kabik /