While pale, expressionless Robert Smith look-alikes skulked around Fairfax, Virginia's Patriot Center at Friday night's Cure show, the man himself appeared almost jovial as the band kicked off its North American tour.
Smith flashed the crowd a demonic schoolgirl grin often, did a bit of goofy dancing and even poked fun at his own stamina, mock-panting after pulling off high and long-held notes on both "From the Edge of the Deep Green Sea" and "The End of the World." Although he wasn't feeling festive enough to accept a peck from guitarist Porl Thompson (back for his third time around with the group) as they played the intro to "A Forest," the frontman expressed the maximum level of giddiness appropriate for a career malcontent.
The keyboard-less line-up of Smith, Thompson, bass player Simon Gallup and drummer Jason Cooper plowed through desolate material, such as "Prayers for Rain," "A Strange Day" and "One Hundred Years" with the right amount of glum force, but concert-goers seemed more into cheery pop rather than the group's moodier material from Disintegration or Pornography. "The Lovecats," "Close to Me," "Why Can't I Be You?" and the similarly dance-party-themed "Freakshow" (from the band's upcoming, as-of-yet untitled double disc) moved the crowd like nothing else.
After the three hour, three encore set finally wrapped up just after midnight, Smith, who said barely a word all night, looked to be stifling a huge smile as he declared the first night of the tour "fucking excellent," and his pale-faced army wholeheartedly agreed.