Bestival 2011 – The Cure

A pop filled affair

With the rain managing to hold back, The Cure took to the windswept main stage, fog bellowing cinematically into the crowd. Guitarist Porl Thompson noticeably missing, former keyboardist Roger O’Donnell filled the void in a surprise appearance, adding an extra layer to the many classics coming.

89’s ‘Plainsong’ started off proceedings, its sparse melodic arrangement setting the tone for the night, the crowd swinging and swaying in unison. A band of little words the group let the music do the talking for the most point with tracks from nearly all 13 albums making an appearance. Testament to The Cure’s legacy was the ability to drop some of their biggest hits such as ‘Just Like Heaven’ and ‘Friday I’m In Love’ relatively early in the set and still have plenty left in the tank for later. 80’s anthem ‘A Forest’ was a sure winner, O’Donnell’s vintage synthesiser and the moonlit sky bringing the gothic groove. Similarly rock enthused ‘Shake Dog Shake’ from trippy album ‘The Top’ got all present banging their heads, pumping their fists and screaming for more.

Despite the odd number here and there tonight’s incarnation of The Cure was a less brooding beast, the reintroduction of keys for the first time proper in six years bringing the opportunity to pop things up. Being a band of two halves sticking to a more upbeat path proved no problem, Robert Smith reminding all of his ability to craft those great three minute love songs.

Later, with special Bestival competition guitar strapped on, which weighed “more than a fucking car” according to the frontman, ‘Lullaby”s hypnotic tale of death and spiders upped the ante for the set’s second half. Greatest hits owners immediately got their moneys worth with the appearance of ‘The ‘Lovecats’ followed by the equally infectious hot hot hot and why can’t I be you. As a special treat ‘The Caterpillar’ was dragged from the vaults making its first live appearance in many many moons – the band themselves looking pleased with how well the track went down.

Brief break taken and it was time for a final encore of post punk classics. Group and audience both charged, the baseline to ‘Jumping Someone Else’s Train’ got people on shoulders, arms in the air and gobs a’singing. ‘Grinding Halt’ and ’10:15 Saturday Night’ followed, Smith’s effects box being used for maximum devastation. It was up to the mid-eastern tinged ‘Killing Another’ to end the night, its manic guitar and pounding drum work leaving the thousands present on a high. With screams of “Robert!” and “I can’t feel my legs!” left to echo, it’s safe to say The Cure just kicked some ass.

Words by Sam Walker-Smart

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