The players all drifted promptly onto their stage last night at Wells Fargo Center to take their places as an arena began to roar. The last of them – The Cure frontman Robert Smith – was received with Philly’s unmuzzled elation. A few in the front row looked like they might collapse, as though they were seeing the Beatles for the first time in 1964.

Before he sang a note, the man’s entrance resembled a curtain call. With a quiet, reluctant poise – call it earnest, call it stagecraft – Smith walked gently to the edge of the stage and stood still, soaking up the love, slowly scanning the screaming legions. He smiled. He walked to the furthest reaches of stage right and left corners. He took his time. He took dozens of roses from those that offered. Finally, he took his place at his microphone.

From the first note he sang, it was clear is he’s still got it where it counts. They all do. Smith still croons and yelps over drummer Jason Cooper’s commanding, echoey percussion, and the melodic hooks perpetrated by older compatriots, including Roger O’Donnell’s and Perry Bamonte’s keys and Reeves Gabrels’ guitar, and – maybe most notably – buoyant bassist Simon Gallup, high-coiffeured like a mid-50’s rebel-rousing rockabilly greaser, right by Smith’s side where he’s been since the very beginning, 45 years ago.

The Cure | photo by Josh Pelta-Heller for WXPN

A 15-song first set heavy on deep tracks was bookended by two brand new ones, “Alone” and “Endsong,” before a brief intermission that merely marked a halfway point. For nearly three solid hours, Smith and co. offered up their perfect dream, weaving the emo-drama and poetry of old favorites like “Pictures Of You” and “Lullaby” with far more rarely played gems like “Six Different Ways,” before descending into a famed jukebox-encore of “Friday I’m In Love,” “Just Like Heaven,” and “Boys Don’t Cry.”

And by the way, the latter was referenced brilliantly by graphic artist Matthew Jacobson for a Philly-date tour poster stylized as a Rocky film promo featuring Robert Smith replacing Stallone at the top of the Art Museum steps, overlooking the Parkway – all washed in hues of Flyers’ orange. Insert chef’s kiss here. (Although that edition is all sold out, you can still pre-order a second run, if you like.)

The Cure
Wells Fargo Center
  • Alone
  • Pictures Of You
  • A Fragile Thing
  • Kyoto Song
  • A Night Like This
  • Lovesong
  • And Nothing Is Forever
  • Burn
  • Charlotte Sometimes
  • Push
  • Play For Today
  • A Forest
  • Shake Dog Shake
  • From The Edge Of The Deep Green Sea
  • Endsong
  • I Can Never Say Goodbye
  • It Can Never Be The Same
  • At Night
  • Plainsong
  • Disintigration
  • Lullaby
  • Six Different Ways
  • The Walk
  • Friday I'm In Love
  • Close To Me
  • Why Can't I Be You
  • In Between Days
  • Just Like Heaven
  • Boys Don't Cry