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Before a big Starlight Theatre crowd, show by the Cure felt just like heaven

Robert Smith sang “Pictures of You” on Wednesday during the Cure concert at Starlight Theatre.
Robert Smith sang “Pictures of You” on Wednesday during the Cure concert at Starlight Theatre. skeyser@kcstar.com

In May 2008, the British rock band the Cure performed at Starlight Theatre, and lead singer Robert Smith had an illness that limited his voice and diminished his energy.

He forged on, delivering 30 songs, but during his performance he apologized and told the crowd that the next time the Cure toured the U.S., the group would return to Kansas City, implying that the results would be much better.

On Wednesday night, he and his band delivered.

For three hours at Starlight, Smith and his band entertained a jubilant, sold-out crowd of about 8,000 with a show that visited nearly every phase of the band’s catalog, which goes back almost 40 years.

The show was about as perfect as a show can get.

The sound was as impeccable as the weather. The set list was constructed for both diehard and casual fans, filled with hits, favorites, deep album cuts, rarities like “Burn” from the “Crow” soundtrack, even a new song.

They opened with two tracks from the revered “Disintegration” album, released in 1989: “Plainsong,” then “Pictures of You,” a classic, melodramatic song about fractured love and heartache.

Smith was in fine form Wednesday evening. He remains the antithesis of a rock idol: disheveled, dressed in black from head to toe under a riotous shock of black hair, his pale countenance adorned with cherry-red lipstick in a manner that recalls Bette Davis in “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?”

Also in fine form was his four-piece band, which included bassist Simon Gallup and guitarist Reeves Gabrels, a longtime sideman for David Bowie.

They didn’t veer far from the songs’ recorded versions, and at times they appeared a bit robotic in their delivery, but that’s a slight complaint about a show that lived up to skyrocketing expectations.

There was an abundance of highlights: “Just Like Heaven,” which elicited a joyous sing-along; “In Between Days,” which did the same; “Lovesong,” which prompted some couples to dance in the aisles; and the final four songs of a 12-song encore, which included classics like “Let’s Go To Bed,” a barn-burning version of “Close to Me,” “Why Can’t I Be You” and “Boys Don’t Cry,” which turned out to be the perfect ending to an exhilarating show that proved that music is the remedy for whatever ails the body or soul.

Timothy Finn: 816-234-4781, @phinnagain

Set list

Plainsong, Pictures of You, Closedown, High, A Night Like This, Push, In Between Days, The Last Days of Summer, Cold, A Strange Day, Lullaby, Kyoto Song, The Caterpillar, Lovesong, Just Like Heaven, 2 Late, Last Dance, Prayers for Rain, Disintegration, It Can Never Be the Same, Want, Shake Dog Shake, Never Enough, Burn, A Forest, Hot Hot Hot, The Walk, Let’s Go To Bed, Close to Me, Why Can’t I Be You, Boys Don’t Cry

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