The chilly gloom that hung over Sunday night's performance by Don Henley at the Molson Amphitheatre would have been better employed as a backdrop for the nearly three-hour set through which Smith led the latest, perhaps final, incarnation of his increasingly long-in-the-tooth Goth-rock ensemble last night.
Despite a slightly draggy start, the band's unrelentingly sombre set was a powerful indicator of just how much it will be missed if, indeed, this is the last voyage into darkness Smith sees fit to mount.
Keeping the self-conscious (and self-deprecating) pop smarts of latter-day Cure albums to a minimum and instead concentrating on the dense, deliberate and luxuriantly despondent epics with which the nearly 25-year-old band is most closely identified, The Cure threw out an unfailingly absorbing wall of sound that compelled the 15,000-strong crowd of aging, but still fashion-conscious mopers (that's not a slight: The Cure got me through high school) to hold out for three encores.
Fittingly, apart from sinister early-set stabs at ``Fascination Street'' and the musty ``Shake, Dog, Shake,'' the band waited until after sunset to rouse itself from a program of elegiac misery and rip into the more . . . well, aggressively miserable reaches of its songbook.
A run at the deceptively sunny ``In Between Days'' gave way to churning darkness in ``Prayers For Rain,'' and plunged vigorously into abject hopelessness with a stunning, assaultively hopeless reading of Pornography's ``One Hundred Years.''
The title track from Bloodflowers followed, swollen to an appropriate, whorling majesty that nicely set up the encore - a grim tour through the new album's lineage that peaked with an exhaustingly intense version of ``Disintegration'' and the title track from Faith, before letting a little light in with a sampling of poppier Cure outings like ``Lovesong'' and the gorgeous ``Just Like Heaven.''
Smith and the band maintained the fervour by closing with the haunting classic, ``A Forest.'' They could have played for another three hours.
It's a mark of how much The Cure's passing - if it happens - will be mourned that so many people can get so worked up over feeling down.
- Ben Rayner
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