The festival season culminates with The Cure closing Riot Fest, the best headlining set of the summer | Albiseyler

The festival season culminates with The Cure closing Riot Fest, the best headlining set of the summer

Anticipation for the grand finale of Riot Fest 2023 has been building all day. Bands from the Cults to The Dresden Dolls were ecstatic to even share the stage with The Cure. Festival-goers wore T-shirts from all eras of the legendary British brooding rockers – including a special design sold just for Sunday’s event.

The rain held off for two and a half hours (although a shower or two would have been total vibes). And when it came time for the gothic heroes to take the first notes, they – unsurprisingly – did not disappoint in a marathon performance that deserves the title of best headliner of Chicago’s summer festival season as it nears its glorious end.

“Hey… one more time,” Robert Smith, wearing an Amy Winehouse T-shirt, cheekily addressed the crowd after the band tore through “Alone.” It was only three months ago that the six-piece was in Chicago playing an impressive 31-song, three-plus hour set at the United Center — not that anyone minded a repeat.

The musicianship of Smith, bassist Simon Gallup, keyboardist Roger O’Donnell, guitarists Perry Bamonte and Reeves Gabrels, and drummer Jason Cooper is unmatched and best appreciated in the latest concert experiences. Together, they create a symphony for the celebration, kicking off a pile of memories and emotions that fans have packed with them as luggage for the night.

The 45-year-old band amplifies the feelings, not just the dark cloud of broken hearts that the band is often accused of, but also as a total celebration of rekindled love. The Cure is a master puppeteer who tugs at the heartstrings of anyone with a pulse.

From crowd favorite “Burn” (popularized on 1994’s “The Crow” soundtrack) woven into “Fascination Street,” other hits like “Lovesong,” “Close yo Me” and “Just Like Heaven” and sonic sweepers like eg like “A Forest,” The Cure were instrumental perfection and possibly the loudest set of the weekend. Whether it was the acoustics or the fact that the attentive listeners held their breath and were silent over the park is up for debate.

Smith also had fun — grinning for the camera, cracking a few smiles and playing through his entire vocal range.

Like the other shows on the tour, in which The Cure fought for fans by paying ticket fees and keeping merch costs down, Riot Fest did what they could; the special edition t-shirts were only $25 and no doubt sold a lot as souvenirs of the night.

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