June 20, 2024

Brighton Journal

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Festival season reaches its peak with The Cure closing out Riot Fest, the best headline set of the summer

Festival season reaches its peak with The Cure closing out Riot Fest, the best headline set of the summer

Anticipation has been building all day for the grand finale of Riot Fest 2023. Bands from Cults to The Dresden Dolls were thrilled to be able to share the same stage as The Cure. Festival-goers wore T-shirts from all eras of legendary British rock music – including a special design sold only for Sunday’s event.

The rain held off for about two and a half hours (although a shower or two would have been a complete makeover). And when it came time for the gothic heroes to hear the first notes, they did not disappoint – unsurprisingly – in a marathon performance worthy of the title of best headlining set of Chicago’s summer festival season as it approached its glorious conclusion.

“Hello… again,” Robert Smith, wearing an Amy Winehouse T-shirt, cheekily addressed the crowd after the band performed “Alone.” It was only three months ago that this six-piece was in Chicago, playing a 31-song, three-hour-plus epic at the United Center — and no one minded repeating it.

The musicianship of Smith, bassist Simon Gallup, keyboardist Roger O’Donnell, guitarists Perry Bamonte and Reeves Gabriels, and drummer Jason Cooper is unparalleled and best appreciated in their latest musical experience. Together they create a festive symphony, evoking a host of memories and emotions that fans carry with them like baggage throughout the night.

The 45-year-old band heightens the emotions, not just the dark cloud of heartbreak that’s often rebuked as evocation but also a full-blown celebration of mutual love. Therapy is a puppet master who tugs at the heartstrings of anyone with a beating pulse.

From the crowd favorite “Burn” (made famous on the soundtrack to “The Crow” from 1994) which weaves into “Fascination Street”, other songs like “Lovesong”, “Close yo Me” and “Just Like Heaven” and sonic sweepers like As “Jungle,” The Cure were instrumental perfection and perhaps the loudest set of the weekend. Whether it was acoustically or the fact that attentive listeners held their breath and maintained a silent stillness over the garden is up for debate.

Smith also had a ball – making faces for the camera, cracking a few smiles and bringing his entire vocal register to play.

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Like other shows on the tour, in which The Cure fought for fans by paying ticket fees and keeping merchandise costs low, the musicians did what they could at Riot Fest; The special edition T-shirts were only $25, and she no doubt sold a lot of them as souvenirs to remember that night.