Most people want to come out ahead of the game. You want to feel like you got every single bang for your buck, like you you walked away with the best possible deal around. In other words, you don't want to feel like you got cheated or that you missed out.
I'm one of these people, and because I know I'm like this, I fully appreciate the saying, "Ignorance is bliss." Sometimes it's better not knowing the thing I bought full price went on clearance last week. Sometimes you're better off believing you got a great deal even if it's not actually the truth.
On the night of the show, my husband and I walked to Madison Square Garden from the hotel, skipping dinner so we’d make the 8 p.m. start time.
Looking back, skipping dinner was kind of a stupid move (in fact, it comes back to haunt me later). When your last meal was breakfast and the concessions available amount to beer, coke, hot dogs and cotton candy you’re better off grabbing something to eat and being a little late to the show.
Much to my relief, the seats were not crappy. They were on the floor level, but thanks to this fantastic invention called “risers” we weren’t stuck looking at the backs of thousands of heads. And, there were chairs. And, people were using them. And from the looks of the crowd, the Cure’s fan base was growing older, just like me. Most of the audience looked like they came from the 30-45 age range. For some reason this made me feel better. When you go out, you never want to be that person. You never want to he standout for being the oldest one in the crowd, garnering looks of pity from the kids as they talk in lowered voices and laugh about the fossil in their midst.
I don’t know why I was worried though. I did the math and figured out Robert Smith was about 50 (he’s 49). It tripped me out to think I am older than he was when I first watched the Fascination Street video on MTV (in the days when they used to play videos) and became enamored enough to go and buy Disintegration(on cassette, of course).
My husband dutifully went to buy food and returned with a dry hot dog and cup of diet coke. I watched people as they found their seats. There were a couple of girls channeling the early 1990’s in stripey tights with clunky shoes and pigtailed heads, but mostly everyone looked normal. Not surprisingly, my husband and I and a black man I had seen walking up the aisle ahead appeared to be the only black people in all of Madison Square Garden (not including anyone there selling food and tee-shirts).
The opening act was 65 Days of Static, a group that was good on its own, but to quote Austin Powers, it wasn’t really my bag, baby. I clapped in the spaces betweem songs and patiently waited for the main act. When the group hit the stage at 9, I was enamored again.
Aside from the age thing, my other fear had been not knowing their newer songs. Well, with 30 years of music to choose from, that wasn’t an issue. They played stuff from every album and it was loud enough for me to sing along without worrying if anyone could hear me. The only place I sing is in the car or in the house if I know there’s no audience.
The Cure took their places with Robert Smith center stage in a black button down and black pants and shoes. Black is slimming, I guess, even though he was looking, er, not so slim. When you think of a rock star, you think skinny, which makes sense. Fast living and burning up calories on the stage usually results in a stick figure physique. Lenny Kravitz and Mick Jagger--David Bowie and Steve Tyler--all those skinny rockers come to mind. All except Robert Smith. Poor Mr. Smith can't seem to shake that "softer" look, but like I always say, the extra just means there’s just more to love. Also, when one of your favorite singers has aged, you never see them how they truly are. You see them the way a kid looks at a beloved stuffed animal. Sure, an eye is missing and the synthetic fur is matted, but you don't care because that stuffed animal was there through the good times and the bad. The same applies to music and the artists who write and play the songs. In my teenage years, the Cure got it. After so many years, I don't want to see the wrinkles and the chub. I want to remember how they looked when they stared down at me from the paper posters I thumbtacked to my bedroom walls. I might be looking at this, however my mind is seeing this. (That's without beer goggles.)
In between songs I’d look over at my husband, who had given up trying to follow the lyrics and was now sitting and playing with his iphone. He’s typing in a facebook entry while they're playing "The Walk." Sometimes I’d attempt to engage him but talking during a live concert is pointless. I’d yell and my husband would nod, but that was either because he understood or he didn’t want me barking in his ear anymore.
After two and a half hours, the show was over and the audience was chanting for more. I never really got the encore thing. I mean why not play what you’re going to play and go home? Or come out, play one song and then really go home? Maybe even take a bow so we know you're finished. It seems like such a tease to keep going away and coming back.
Minutes passed and the crowd was still shouting for more. Then, just I sensed defeat settling in, one by one, the Cure emerged. took their places and played 2 more songs and promptly disappeared again. The crowd chanted and they came back for 3 more. Then, we waited again, but they didn’t come out. It was over, I told myself. Let's go before people flood the exits.
Besides, we we were hungry.
Before you enter the stairwells of Madison Square Garden, there are warning signs telling you that you can not return once you pass through those doors. The finality of that left me uneasy, but we descended the stairs. They were done, I told myself, a lot of people are leaving, so the Cure can't possibly do another encore. No one does 3 encores.
My husband bought my birthday gift (a concert tee! Score!) and we walked back out onto the street. On the way back to the hotel, a heavy rainstorm hit. It was the kind that was born from a huge passing cloud. Giant drops splatted against the street and the sidewalks, and those without umbrellas hugged up to building stoops and under awnings to take cover. I brought an umbrella for the trip but it was in the hotel room. I imagined it tucked into our warm, dry bed, watching Jay Leno's opening jokes while my husband and I huddled under a grocery store awning in a midnight downpour.
The storm passed and we searched for a pizza joint. My ears were ringing and Saturday would involve a long drive home, but it was worth it. Going had turned out to be better than not buying the tickets in the first place. My last concert was in Baltimore, for the Wiggles. Don't get me wrong--I like them too, but it was due time for me to get back into music aimed at adults.
Once I got home, I checked the Cure’s website. The set list from the show was there, including the encores. As I read through the titles, I picked out the songs I recognized. Then I reached the bottom, where the author had typed the words: “Encore 3”
(ignorance is bliss!)