Merriweather Post Pavilion, Columbia, MD June 18, 2000
by Rob Ward
Appropriately, there was a slight drizzle as the crowd filtered into the Merriweather Post Pavilion to see the Cure. I only spotted one Robert Smith lookalike, and the rest of the crowd was a pretty even split: half goths and half forty to fifty year-old couples. By the time the concert had started, the goth in front of me had smoked a pack of cigarettes and the forty year-olds next to me were well on their way to severe inebriation. When the stage lights kicked on, an eerie sort of silent anticipation overtook the crowd until the band finally came out and the crowd went crazy. Even the goths were cheering loudly.
The first song they played was "Out of this World," the first track on their new album, Bloodflowers. Right from the start, the drunken forty year-olds got on my nerves. They kept yelling, "Play something old!" Then when the Cure played something new, they would mutter, "damn." In fact, they even muttered curses when the band played "One Hundred Years," off of Pornography. I didn't check for their reaction, but I bet "Killing An Arab" was the only song old enough to make them happy.
The lighting and visual effects were nothing original, but they complimented the music well. There were three screens behind the band that looked about fifty feet tall, and they showed different collections of images during songs. "Fascination Street" was accompanied by images of neon signs from adult novelty stores and strip clubs. During "Want," there were about five hourglasses projected onto the screens. For the last song before the encores, they played "Bloodflowers," the final (and title) track from the new album, and there was a massive copy of the flower projected onto the middle screen. This final image looked three-dimensional.
The show lasted almost exactly three hours, and the band played three encores. According to legend about the Cure, the band only plays "Killing An Arab" at the end of a concert when Robert has had an especially good time. Throughout the entire third encore, he played with a wide grin, and when he played the opening five notes to "Killing An Arab," there was a loud scream of delight as a hardcore fan recognized the intro. Maybe Robert had a good time because the mass of people packed in front of the stage never stopped dancing, maybe he was happy because of the sheer size of the crowd, or maybe he was happy because he knew that they were selling Dream Tour T-shirts for forty-five dollars a piece and most sizes had sold out by the end of the show. No matter what the reason, the band was having a good time, the crowd was having a good time, and the beer vendors were having a good time. Everyone was happy (even though the goths would never admit it).
As the crowd filed out, there was the normal discomfort of being crammed against twenty people surrounding you. After about five minutes of hardly moving at all, the goth standing next to me turned to his friend and declared, "I hate people." It might not have been so funny if he hadn't had the exact voice they used on the Saturday Night Live skit about goths, but he did. He was a sincere misanthrope.
Overall, the most important lesson I learned at the concert was that if you plan to be performing shows past the age of forty, you really ought to start wearing make-up when you're young so that you can pretend it's all just some kind of fashion statement. It's just too bad that Robert Smith didn't let the keyboard player, Roger, in on the secret, because he sure could have used some. Nevertheless, their music has definitely not suffered as it aged, and Roger's keyboard riffs are an essential trait in "Out of this World" and all of their new songs. The Cure is still an integral band in pop culture, and their performance at Merriweather Post Pavilion confirmed their role.