Most bands play a Glastonbury show. The Cure, however, simply play a Cure show at Glastonbury. Then again, theyve always played the pop game by their own rules – having their own ideas as to what that should be. This is even though Robert Smith hints at compromise when he announces at the start of the encore for the next thirty minutes this is Glastonbury. Yet the reality is that this setlist wasnt too different from what theyd play at any other headline show.
The only noticeable difference this time is that this set was actually shorter than the average Cure performance. Clocking in at just shy of two hours the iconic, estimable band dug deep into their vast archive and plucked out a number of rarities, but the bulk is sourced from Disintegration (an album which theyve been playing whole shows of not too long ago but still, as we said, this is Glastonbury).
An early Pictures of You twists and turns its wormhole melody, whilst Fascination Street exhorts its compellingly hypnotic, driving bass. The first substantial stirring from the crowd comes with the acoustic shuffle of In Between Days and Just Like Heave, but a surprising mid-set highlight comes in the form of a rough n ready Never Enough. All the while, Smith just plugs away, barely acknowledging the audience. Hes in the zone and on the go. The band are exceptional though and Smiths voice is a thing to admire.
There is a chastening appreciation for the bands ability to pare things back and then push things further out, further forward, louder, brasher, bolder. A Forest still sounds like a game-changing record. Theres none of the confetti from the previous headliners this weekend. There is certainly no fireworks anywhere else but on stage in the interplay between these consummate musicians. They are the antithesis of what came before and we are all no poorer for it. The music really does speak volumes.
In fact, tonights show reminds people, if they ever needed reminding, just how much of a national treasure Robert Smith and his not-so-merry troupe are. The concluding half hour is stuffed with the songs people know backwards. Theres Friday Im in Love. Theres Close to Me. And then theres Boys Dont Cry to close.
To enter the Cures orbit is to visit a Tim Burton fantasy – the portent and ambience an enveloping elixir. A heady potion to be intoxicated by. On this showing, we need their uniqueness more than ever. That mooted new album cant come quick enough.
By Greg Wetherall