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THE CURE London Wembley Arena 1+3 December 2016   Print  E-mail 
Written by Mark Reed  
Monday, 12 December 2016

About every ten years I see The Cure play a genuine gobsmacking belter, and tonight is up there with the 2006 Cancer Trust gig and the 1992 Rock City show as almost levitatingly good.

And nearly a decade after their last record, the Cure are headlining three nights at Wembley Arena – and the last time they did this was 27 years ago when “Disintegration” was a number 1 album and they were headlining American stadiums. Now they haven't released a record in 8 years or even a new song in that long, tired of the industry treadmill that makes you forgot sometimes why you do it, and a 'marketplace' that is fractured into dozens of pieces.

Over the course of three nights here, they play 95 songs in nine hours, from deep album cuts recorded in the Seventies, to songs that haven't even come out. There's too much thinking sometimes, and whilst some hold on for advances that will ever materialise clinging to old business models that no longer exist from their mansions, others live in the new world. But also, and perhaps more importantly, there seems to be no dimming of the creative urge, or the integrity of this. The core lineup of Smith, Gallup, Jason Cooper on drums and Roger O Donnell on keyboards first played together over 21 years ago, and have built up the kind of fluid abilities some may envy : on their third night, a slight nod of the head sees the band fall into a improvised jam ending to “A Forest” (the kind of thing this band haven't really done in many years), with former Bowie guitarist Reeves Gabrels. Gabrels on the other hand has, after some tentative early shows, now fully and confidently plays with more than the fluency and power of previous guitar player, the frankly brilliant Porl Thompson : Reeves occupies the roles in the songs with authority, faithfully performing the songs yet also stamping his own interpretation on them.

Given that it's the 14th time I've seen The Cure in the past 25 years (and really, I thought it was more), I've never seen them do a bad gig : I've seen the odd poor set of circumstances, notably, a half-sold Cricket stadium in Manchester in pissing rain where the band played half a set of very new material to a bored bunch of mostly drunk passing voters just before the lineup disintegrated – and this, tonight, with nothing to prove, because they're playing for the sake of playing, with no record to plug, just a racket to make, The Cure play one of the best shows I've ever seen them do. About every ten years I see The Cure play a genuine gobsmacking belter, and tonight is up there with the 2006 Cancer Trust gig and the 1992 Rock City show as almost levitatingly good.

Night#1 they open with the rarely played, and obscure “Out of This World” which taken from commercial-suicide record of 'Bloodflowers'. This was a troubled time or the band commercially, turning their back on the unsuccessful “Wild Mood Swings” that sat in the summer of Britpop, and it was an album of dense, long songs with no hit singles, and just two UK shows in London, After this, the band fall into a set of near enough nothing but hits. In itself, it's practically a perfect gig some bands would rest on themselves, job done, they then also descend into their other stock in trade, of deep and unashamedly maudlin songs. Whilst perhaps the order of some of the songs, and the choice, may seem baffling or alienating to fans who want one version of The Cure, whilst The Cure are several bands all at the same time – and there is an undoubted deflation when they follow “Inbetween Days” with a funeral paced 7 minute seep through “Sinking” - life can't be sliced into parts, just good. Just bad. Just hits. Watching The Cure is a musical DVD box set, and sometimes you do drift from the band as a viewer. But The Cure are very effective at creating and keeping a mood, be it joy, despair, or some form of all of those at the same time.

On the first night, two huge chunks of the set are Nothing But Hits with two runs of 11 top 40 singles in a row. The final night – and the 76th and last show of their tour – sees an average lump of an hour of hits in a row.

8 years since their last album, like many peers, The Cure have become a band that doesn't release records these days. Even before the collapse of the industry, when musicians became older there was less to sing about, sometimes. Bryan Ferry famously said that he didn't write songs anymore because they'd be about swimming pools and cars. The Cure meanwhile, are still writing songs (they play two new ones tonight), the world just doesn't exist the way it used to, and when the economy pays something like 0.00001p per copy listened to, the world is just a bit wrong. A song is worth more than a sandwich. Music is not just in the air, like clouds. Songs are made, crafted, and whilst the songs themselves are sometimes gifts from heaven, they still need to be constructed, and taken from the vision in the mind, to the symphony in your ear.

Some nights, I see the best band in the world. Tonight, The Cure are that band. They're not always my favourite band in the world – maybe in my top 10 – but tonight, like every time I see them, they enter that rare echelon. The list of bands where, if they asked me, yes, I would spend the rest of my life playing in them. Proof that time doesn't dull the blade.

Night #1
Out of This World,
Pictures Of You,
High,
Lovesong,
Just Like Heaven,
A Night Like This,
The Walk,
Push,
Inbetween Days,
Three Imaginary Boys,
Play For Today,
Primary,
Trust,
FTEOTDGS,
Bloodflowers,
39,
Burn,
A Forest,
Step Into The Light,
Fascination Street,
Never Enough,
Wrong Number,
The Lovecats,
Lullaby,
Hot Hot Hot,
Friday I'm In Love,
Boys Don't Cry,
Close To Me,
Why Can't I Be You?
10.15 Saturday Night
, Killing An Arab


-

Night #2
Plainsong,
Pictures Of You,
Closedown,
Burn,
Fascination Street,
Push,
Inbetween Days,
Other Voices,
A Night Like This,
Charlotte Sometimes,
Lovesong,
Just Like Heaven,
Last Dance,
Prayers,
Disintegration,
Want,
Hungry Ghost,
FTEOTDGS,
At Night,
M,
Play For Today,
Forest,
Lullaby,
Walk,
Friday I'm In Love,
Doing The Unstuck,
Boys Don't Cry,
Close To Me,
Why Can't I Be You?,
10.15 Saturday Night,
Killing An Arab
-

Night #3
Open,
Kyoto Song,
A Night Like This,
The Baby Screams,
Push,
Inbetween Days,
Sinking,
Pictures Of You,
Before Three,
Lovesong,
Just Like Heaven,
If Only Tonight,
FTEOTDGS,
100 Years,
End,
It Can Never Be The Same,
Burn,
A Forest,
Shake Dog Shake,
Fascination Street,
Never Enough,
Wrong Number,
Lullaby,
Caterpillar,
Freakshow,
Friday I'm In Love,
Boys Don't Cry,
Close To Me,
Why Can't I Be You,
Three Imaginary Boys,
10.15 Saturday Night,
Killing An Arab

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