LIVE REPORTGREEN STAGE7/28 SUN
Thousands of people waited in the darkness, creeping all the way up to the edge of the forests, in the mud-soaked clearing where the Green Stage stood. The quick moral of the story? We all have our problems, but a night like this is perfect for The Cure. One dedicated fan even flew both the Union Jack and the flag of England high above the crowd. Another waved the flag of France; one of the The Cure’s favorite places to play. The crowd cheered every time a song on the PA ended, hoping their heroes would show their faces. At three minutes past the band’s call time, the PA stopped broadcasting music for a second, and the audience went wild, but The Cure still did not emerge from backstage. When the band failed to appear for the second time, some audience members attempted to start a beckoning chant, but to no avail. Seven minutes after the band’s call time, the crowd called for them again, but again to no avail. Eleven minutes after their call time, the PA music died out again, and the crowd once again cheered. Finally, various members of The Cure walked onstage to the opening synthesizer strains of “Plainsong”; the first track on 1989’s Disintegration.
As Robert Smith slowly ambled onstage like aging royalty emerging from a deep slumber, the crowd gave him a welcome fit for such a Rock God. When he finally started singing, the huge stage-side screens revealed the drummer’s hair fluttering in the wind, as if by perfect design; matching the music videos of the era from which this song hails. Young Eden Gallup stood in for his bassist father, Simon, and went to great pains to reproduce the formers’s tone and movements.
As the song came to an end, Robert Smith bellowed “Thank you! Hello again!”. Then, as The Cure dove into “Pictures of You” the bass tone was slightly different than usual, and it became apparent that the band was actually jamming out to a live-version intro. Eventually, it became apparent that the whole song seemed reworked, however, in a bit of a remix, and it worked; feeling relevant to 2019. Seeing The Cure in this context was really a once-in-a-lifetime experience with dozens of floodlights overhead in this semi-cloudy mountainous night. The crowd gave them the applause and the cheers these legends deserve. As they performed “Love Song” (once again from 1989’s Disintegration) one was acutely aware of being in the presence of the Rock Gods of the outcasts and misfits. Eden leaned into his playing in the same manner that his father would; wearing it low on his body and delivering his parts with mindful respect of the majesty of the song at hand. When “Love Song” ended, the audience applauded like they knew they might not get to see The Cure again. This is 2019, and Robert Smith has outlasted many legends whom, logically, should have died after him. The band then delivered “Last Dance”, with Reeves Gabrels holding tightly to stage right; ever the wizard, producing what each song requires. Robert Smith paced the stage, telling the story of the song’s lyrics, as if speaking to their inspiration. As the music stopped, the crowd applauded like they couldn’t wait to hear the next song, and Robert Smith quickly said “thank you”.
One hour into The Cure’s set, Robert Smith pulled on a black acoustic guitar bedecked with a white star, and the band tore into “In Between Days” from 1985’s The Head on the Door. Huge floodlights projected large circles of white light onto the forest opposite the stage; as if adding extra moons to this night, and making it even more romantic. A few songs later, as yet another song came to an end, the audience applauded as if asking for an encore, but the band was nowhere near packing it in. The band then dove headlong into “A Forest” with projection mapping simulating walking through a forest on the huge screen at the back of the stage. Ninety-four minutes into their set, the band tore into “Disintegration” – the title track from the album of the same name – but there was something terribly wrong with the mix, and a nasty crackling emanated from the PA speakers. An hour and forty minutes into their performance, The Cure put down their instruments and left the stage without saying goodnight. Most members of the audience clapped above their heads, hoping for an encore. Given the fact that Robert Smith seemed disappointed in tonight’s young substitute bassist, it was unclear as to whether the band would re-emerge.
After a few minutes of clapping, the audience had their wish granted, as the drummer resumed his seat behind the kit, and Robert Smith emerged, smiling. After making an unclear comment about things going wrong for him “in this idiot world,” The Cure dived into “Lullaby”, from the 1989 album Disintegration; with Robert Smith doing a crazy little spider dance during an instrumental section. The Cure played seven encores in all, with the audience seemingly applauding and cheering more for each additional number. The band tore through classics like “The Caterpillar”, “The Walk”, “Friday I’m in Love”, “Close to Me”, “Why Can’t I Be You,” and “Boys Don’t Cry”. During “Friday I’m in Love”, hearts and eyes from the artwork of the Wish album floated across the screen at the back of the stage and, despite the late hour, despite the mud, and in spite of the rain, thousands of people danced, jumped up and down, waved their arms and sang along happily to this heartwarming classic. At the end of the last encore, Robert Smith looked exhausted and placed his right hand over his heart as the audience delivered heartfelt sustained applause. Mr.Smith then returned to center stage and said, “Thank you! We hope we will see you again.” After a deep sigh, he wiped tears from his eyes. Then, as he walked towards backstage, he stopped and turned to look at his adoring audience a few times – like a shy child – before finally disappearing, as the applause continued unfailingly.