The Cure Air Canada Centre, Toronto ON May 15

While most of their peers have already packed it in and reunited on a few different occasions, the Cure have never given in to their declining youth, popularity and quality. The week they debuted their new single, taken from an album due in September, the four black-clad figures walked on stage looking much like they’ve done for the last 20 years and gave a crowd in the thousands another memorable show in the home of the Raptors and Leafs. Unfortunately, the memories won’t be of yet another epic three-hour performance or hearing new songs for the first time. No, the memory that will last is of the Cure — a band known for their ethereal textures — performing as a quartet sans a keyboardist. Leader Robert Smith reduced the band’s size in 2005, as a means of simplifying the music, but it did nothing of the sort on the ACC stage. Instead of the grandiose melodies and tones fans are accustomed to on record, the Cure gave often-bare performances of songs built by the fingers of past keyboardists Lol Tolhurst and Roger O’Donnell. Everything from Disintegration missed its mark; guitarist Porl Thompson tried his best to mimic the synth work of favourites like "Love Song” and "Lullaby” but just couldn’t handle such a heavy task with his axe. The same went for classics like "Close to Me” and the ivory-tickled "Love Cats,” which out of all of the songs was the most troubled and not just because Smith forgot a verse. This major disappointment aside, Smith’s voice surprisingly sounded as good as ever, as he hit every note necessary, be it a new one like "The Perfect Boy” or a real oldie like "10:15 Saturday Night.” Hell, even just hearing brooding guitar-led classics like "One Hundred Years” and "A Forest” almost seemed enough to wipe away the bad synth-less taste. Almost, but not quite.