Enough to plaster a grin on your face for the rest of the weekend...
Bird’s nest hair. A black shirt that shimmers silver in the light. Blood red, poorly applied lippy and a corpse-like complexion. But enough about the state of your Hot Press correspondent on a Saturday evening at Stradbally – Robert Smith has just stepped onstage. As distinctive as ever, his presence is always a thrill – but perhaps even moreso tonight, given what is potentially in store.
The field of expectant faces have already heard the quotes from The Cure leader, in which he promised the hits. All of them. There have beeen the reports from other performances that the band are now playing sets of 20-plus songs. And so it goes this evening. And then some. The second those famous Disintegration opening wind chimes erupt into the solemn, doomed synths of ‘Plainsong’, confirmation has arrived that we are in for a three-hour treat, taking in over 30 songs.
In terms of length, approach and content, this is truly epic. In studio, the goth gods’ stock may have fallen from the dizzying heights inhabited throughout the ‘80s but in a live setting, you can’t imagine they were ever better. Talking to our own Stuart Clark ahead of the gig, Smith confirmed that, rather than make the crowd dive into their patented dark pool for the entire night, his group would go for a more summery, spacey approach. He stays true to his word, rolling out pop classic after pop classic. ‘Lovesong’ is the sound of swooning, 2004’s ‘The End Of The World’ holds its own next to their more vintage material, whilst an early brace of the twin classics ‘Inbetween Days’ and ‘Just Like Heaven’ is enough to plaster an idiot’s grin on your face for the rest of the weekend. That’s all within the first hour. Elsewhere, ‘Lullaby’ enchants, ‘A Forest’ is a Grimm fairytale in pop form and ‘Friday I’m In Love’ spirals skywards. An encore of ‘The Lovecats’ and ‘Close To Me’ gets the people dancing, while their dark, downbeat and essentially funereal side is represented with plenty of Disintegration selections and Pornography’s oppressive ‘One Hundred Years’. But wisely they are just brief nods. A second encore ends things with a look back to the very beginning, vital, youthful stabs at ‘Boy’s Don’t Cry’, ‘10:15 Saturday night’ and ‘Killing In Arab’ bringing their career full circle – and showing just how far they’ve come. Four hours next time, Robert?
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