Is this the beginning of the end for long-running British goth-rock act the Cure? After serving up distinctive, sentiment-absorbed mini-pop epics for more than 20 years, the quintet began the process of saying goodbye Saturday with a low-frills concert that highlighted its established strengths but also served to validate the band’s decision that its new album will be its last.
If recent statements by singer Robert Smith and his bandmates are to be believed, “Bloodflowers” (Fiction/Elektra), which arrived in stores earlier this week, will be the Cure’s last album, so it was appropriate that much of this Palace show focused on that new collection, which strays little from the band’s trademark tortured-soul template.
But longtime fans who managed to get their hands on the scarce tickets (which were being auctioned online for prices in the upper three-digits) were also rewarded with a career-spanning set of sometimes-obscure tracks depicting the Cure’s darkest moods, as opposed to the numerous radio hits that were marched out when the band played L.A. last, three years ago at Legion Hall.
The 18-song production began with the slow and delicate “Out of This World,” the lead track on “Bloodflowers,” setting a charged, if deliberate, tone for the two-hour show. “When we look back at it all, will we really remember how it feels to be this alive?” the ghoulish Smith sang, as dark red lights blanketed the musicians with a glow as spooky as their multilayered music.
During a few mid-set numbers (old hit “Fascination Street,” recent single “Maybe Someday”), the five-piece band, which was playing one of just a handful of U.S. club shows following similar bookings in Europe, grew more energized; performance of early tracks like 1982’s haunting “One Hundred Years” and 1987’s guitar-filled “Shiver and Shake,” followed by the whimsical “Bloodflowers,” brought the regular set to a rousing close.
The show’s two encores (two songs each) moved away from the new album in favor of some of the band’s more emotionally explosive early material, including standouts “Figure Head” and crowd fave “A Forest,” from the Cure’s 1980 release “Seventeen Seconds.”
This six-city small-venue tour continues through a sold-out Gotham date Feb. 28 at Roseland Ballroom; a more extensive American tour is planned for spring.