Pants Wilder and I drove down to Charlotte yesterday to meet up with bascha and goodtofu to see The Cure play at Bobcats Arena. I’ve never seen The Cure in person despite long years of loving them. It was completely rad and I’m very glad I went. Some brief observations:

Robert Smith is a huge dork who started a band thirty years ago and it all worked out. He’s not a big rock star, he’s not all slick and aloof. He’s a fat dude with dumb hair who gets up there and does silly little dances that have not been choreographed to death and he is awesome. This was one of the best live performances I’ve ever seen and one of the least staged live performances I’ve ever seen. It felt like spending time listening to Robert Smith kind of rock out for a while and I can’t really ask for better.

I really want their new album to come out because I really like Sleep When I’m Dead, which they played.

Cure concerts are, apparently, the intersection of all demographics. We were seated next to Patchouli Monster goths on the one side and yuppie 40-somethings on the other. In front of us were 20-somethings in frat tees and heavy makeup who looked like refugees from a Dave Matthews Band festival and they were totally into it. Pants Wilder told me later of overhearing a towering redneck say to his smaller, less redneck friend, “Well DAYUMN, nobody told me they was a ROCK band!” There were the old, the young, the drunk, the gothed out, the trashy, the glam.

Robert Smith can totally rock out at seven million years old. He has completely got it.

Bascha pointed out afterwards that one of the things that always impresses her is how much Robert Smith live sounds like Robert Smith recorded. His voice doesn’t get fucked around with during the production process when they’re working on albums. It is very clear that what we hear on an album is his voice, period. He is a very talented singer who doesn’t require a lot of whatever to make his songs listenable. At the same time, they seemed to do some tweaking of their older standards for modern ears. I commented to Pants Wilder that their concert version of Three Imaginary Boys sounds like The Cure covering The Faint covering The Cure, what with a more aggressive bass line and a more driving tempo; I found this to be true pretty much across the board with the older stuff and the version of Killing an Arab they played in the third(!) encore was downright speed metal for all intents and purposes.

I am kind of babbling at this point but that’s in part due to excitement and in part due to lack of sleep. My one criticism is that the opening band, 65 Days of Static, kind of grated on me when they would stop playing lovely melodic things and abruptly cut directly to noisy thrash. Every song would break down into four or five ridiculously skinny kids with hair in their eyes raking their fists across the strings of a tortured electric guitar. My first observation about them was that it’s a wonder their moms would all sign the release forms to let them go on tour; the other was that I like to imagine them going backstage after they’re done, filing past Robert Smith. “Another great show, lads,” he intones at them and they, in unison, drone back, “Ta, Mr. Smith.” As soon as they’re off-camera we hear Robert Smith mutter disgustedly, under his breath, “Bloody noise.”