The Cure - The O2 Arena, London - 26/02/09

04 Mar 2009

"where to go in life from seeing robert smith vaulting around a stage proclaiming, "misjudged your limits, pushed you too far, took you for granted, i thought that you needed me more..." while a riff so effortless, so beautiful and yet so glorious rings behind him. where to go from there..?"; release - '09

The Cure

The problem with managing oneself is that you don't have anybody to tell you certain things. Things like, 'here's your chance to reach a new audience with your mammoth hits, Robert'. Maybe it's because the seminal gloomy-rocker Robert Smith is his own boss that we were treated to a Cure set totally unlike any other you're likely to hear at their festival shows. Playing at The O2 with Franz Ferdinand and Crystal Castles as part of the NME 'Big Gig', The Cure had a shot at winning over the unavoidably youthful 20,000+ audience with an ultimate greatest hits performance - but instead chose to spread their setlist among their 13 studio albums in a show that was quite possibly the best Cure fan-gig to ever land in Britain.

Opening on the dramatic, and at times outright spectacular, 'Underneath The Stars', there was uproar as Smith skipped to the stage. It's easy to forget how important he's been to music, and the songs under his belt which have overloaded our mix-tapes since we were old enough to hold down the 'play' and 'record' buttons. He takes a breath and all imaginings are rewarded though; his voice is golden, just as it's always sounded blitzing out of oversized headphones - my adolescence storming back by the first chorus. There's a flash of realisation that drags me back to the third row and we're into 'A Forest', the first of a select few big hits of the night. It's bleakly full of despondency, unerringly how a Cure song should be. Let's face it, this isn't a cheery band. To one side of me Britain's youth play with the melodies while to the other Tim Burton gingerly strums an air guitar, and such is The Cure's world of being trapped in a perpetual melancholy pop-limbo.

Their backdrop is grand but not histrionic, simple iconography lacing the huge O2 stage while 'Inbetween Days' lands with an underpant-splitting bluster of energy. Smith's excitable greebo-ballet turns the arena into a school disco and we're all dancing like 12 year olds, shyly flopping our hair around while guitarist Porl Thompson bangs his high heels pedal-wards and crashes the set into 'Just Like Heaven'. Never has a song title captured the mood so flawlessly.

It thus continues until 'It's Over', a rather faux statement as half a pant later they're back on stage to deliver what's arguably the best piece of pop music ever written. Up there with 'Tiny Dancer' and 'Born To Run' is The Cure's 1979 masterpiece 'Boy's Don't Cry', collectively adored and played tonight with no agenda. You can wait a lifetime for the perfect moment, and then it happens. Where to go in life from seeing Robert Smith vaulting around a stage proclaiming, "Misjudged your limits, pushed you too far, took you for granted, I thought that you needed me more..." while a riff so effortless, so beautiful and yet so glorious rings behind him. Where to go from there?

The Cure, celebrating over 30 years in the charts, seem as relevant now as ever. Their music sounds as significant and emotive as it could have in 1979. They look every bit the poster-stars they've been in my mind... and sound twice as sonically satisfying.

SET LIST: Underneath The Stars / From the Edge of the Deep Green Sea / The Perfect Boy / The End of the World / Sleep When I'm Dead / A Forest / Three Imaginary Boys / Shake Dog Shake / Maybe Someday / The Only One / Inbetween Days / Just Like Heaven / Primary / Want / The Hungry Ghost / Disintegration / One Hundred Years / It's Over //ENCORE// Boys Don't Cry / Jumping Someone Else's Train / Grinding Halt / 10:15 Saturday Night / Killing An Arab

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