The last Chicago appearance by gloomy pop geniuses The Cure was a generous Riot Fest 2014 performance in soggy Humboldt Park. The 27-song set included gems like the moody and propulsive “A Forest” from 1980’s “Seventeen Seconds,” and continued through modern favorites like “The Hungry Ghost” from 2008’s “4:13 Dream.”
The band’s current touring leg began last month in New Orleans, and it has been receiving consistent raves from dedicated fans for balancing popular crowd-pleasers like “Lovesong” and “Boys Don’t Cry,” surprising deep cuts like “This Twilight Garden,” and songs thought long retired like “The Exploding Boy,” “The Perfect Girl” and “All I Want.” Shows have featured multiple encores and pushed toward three hours.
The Cure has been thrilling goth and pop fans for four decades. Although the group’s composition has fluctuated, frontman Robert Smith has maintained a stable lineup since 2012 featuring longtime bassist Simon Gallup, veteran keyboardist Roger O’Donnell and drummer Jason Cooper.
Despite the 2010 departure of founding guitarist Pearl (aka Porl) Thompson, the Cure have seemed particularly rejuvenated since the addition of inventive guitarist and former David Bowie sideman Reeves Gabrels in 2012. Gabrels’ association with Smith spans nineteen years. In 1997, the pair met at rehearsals for a concert celebrating Bowie’s 50th birthday. Afterward, Smith and Gabrels recorded the singles “Wrong Number” and “Yesterday’s Gone.” The former appeared on a 1999 Cure compilation, and the latter appeared on Gabrels’ solo album “Ulysses.” On tour, Gabrels has added sonic derring-do to songs like “Give Me It” from 1984 album “The Top.”
Overwhelming demand has prompted the Cure to take extra measures to accommodate fans. After capacity was swiftly consumed for its Minneapolis concert, the band altered its staging to permit additional seats. The band’s UIC Pavilion date was expanded to two nights.
Performances of new material including the encouraging “Step Into the Light” and melancholy “It Can Never Be the Same” suggest that these seasoned players are preparing to summit another peak.
* The Cure, with The Twilight Sad, 7:30 p.m. June 10-11, UIC Pavilion, 525 S. Racine. Sold Out; ticketmaster.com.
Jeff Elbel is a local freelance writer.