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Cure delivers a purely mechanical concert Saturday at Great Woods

THE CURE

With Shelleyan Orphan.

Great Woods, September 23.

By ALEX SOLIS

THE CURE HAVE BEEN ENGAGED IN an exhausting five-month world tour, and the ennui provoked by being on the road for so long is starting to show. In their last American show Saturday at Great Woods, the Cure showed sparks of inspiration, but on the whole they delivered a concert by rote.

The band opened the show with the first three songs from their album Disintegration, "Plainsong," "Pictures of You," and "Closedown." They played most of Disintegration, including "Prayers for Rain" and an excellent rendition of the title track. Of their older songs, "Cold," "The Walk," and "A Forest" were outstanding.

The Cure delivered a powerful encore with "Lullaby," "Close to Me," "Why Can't I be You?" and "Homesick." They closed their third encore by performing with their opening act, Shelleyan Orphan.

The members of the band played their instruments with outstanding mastery. Particularly good were drummer Boris Williams and keyboardist Roger O'Donnel (formerly of the Psychedelic Furs). Robert Smith's vocals were faithful to the album versions of the songs, though occasionally they lacked emotion. The light show was quite astonishing and often compensated for the Cure's utter passivity on stage.

One of the minor problems with Saturday's performance was that the band rarely created a rapport with the audience. After having played the same set for five months, the band performed like machines. They sounded right, but they did not feel right. They seemed tired, as if they just wanted to get it over with. In fact, the band didn't seem to really loosen up until the second part of the show. Not surprisingly, they got the most feedback from the crowd on their last few songs and the encores.

The Cure have been together for over ten years. They have threatened to break up should they ever achieve popular success. Moreover, they have declared that the Prayer Tour will be their last tour. When questioned about the future, band leader Robert Smith is evasive and just mutters in his strange accent that he is getting tired of the Cure and that he doesn't think that they can go much further musically. Other members of the band say that Smith is always that way and that his pessimism keeps him sane, but he looks like he means it more and more.

To put it bluntly, Saturday's show was mediocre. It satisfied, but it was not nearly as good as the one on their previous tour. Better by far to see the Cure separate at the height of their career than to watch their standards fall.