Only Robert Smith could lure the goths outside in this kind of heat wave. But then again, who could resist this line-up? Today is the latest curation from Smith, following his recent work at Meltdown Festival, a dream roster of hand-picked acts to celebrate The Cure’s 40th anniversary.
Veteran shoegazers Slowdive are still riding the crest of their opulent comeback wave. Tracks from last year’s self-titled album, their first in over two decades, meld beautifully with the intricately textured haze of their 90’s cuts, especially the anthemic ‘Star Roving’ which soars like an open heart between a luscious ‘Crazy For You’ and dream-like ‘Souvlaki Space Station’. The set culminates with ‘When The Sun Hits’ in a thunder of distortion, before radiant guitars evaporate in the early afternoon sun. Glorious.
Over on the Summer Stage, Icelandic darkwave trio Kaelan Mikla provide one of the day’s highlights. Decked in black lace, frontwoman Laufey Soffia performs with her hands together and eyes closed as though leading an unholy ritual. As moody post- punk synths on ‘Kalt’ and ‘Upphaf’ weave a bleak spell over the crowd, every now and then her murmurs break into bug-eyed fits of violence. A tormented thrill.
Interpol are definitely a band who thrive in the gloom and despite the intense heat, NYC’s most dapper quartet don’t break character, dressed to the nines in sharp, black suits. ‘All The Rage Back Home’, ‘Obstacle 1’ and ‘Evil’ prove sleek, glacial hypnosis can be just as euphoric in the sun, and their hour on main stage throws up some unexpected tracks that haven’t made it into setlist for years: ‘Length Of Love’, ‘Rest My Chemistry and most surprisingly, ‘Success’ a glowering cut from the band’s much maligned self-titled 2010 album.
By the time Ride take to the second stage, the heat is fading from the day and England have won their first World Cup quarter final in 28 years. “I’m getting a huge semi on,” grins Ride frontman Mark Gardener accordingly, by way of introduction. The vibe across the field is one of celebration and as a result, it’s easier than ever to get lost in the band’s kaleidoscopic pop psychedelia.
It begins with the woozy shimmer of ‘Lannoy Point’ from the band’s comeback album 'Weather Diaries' while the swirling guitars and wistful harmonies on ‘Leave Them All Behind’ sound like watercolours blending into a new, vivid palette. The set ends with a tumultuous ‘Drive Blind’ and a closing drone of ear-splitting feedback leaving a huge crowd confused, dazed but elated.
The Cure’s recent set at Meltdown Festival saw them dig deep into their discography with a set that covered every album in their back catalogue. Tonight though, it’s all about the hits.
“I can’t really talk until the sun goes down. It’s taking all my energy not to dissolve,” jokes frontman Robert Smith. The Cure might seem ill equipped for these conditions but there’s no doubt the glistening salvo of ‘Push’, ‘In Between Days’ and ‘Just Like Heaven’ sound absolutely sublime in the fading sun.
On the other hand, The Cure are a band who have spent 40 years building atmosphere in the shadows. As such, the set really starts to click as the nervy, new- wave drama of ‘Play For Today’, ‘A Forest’, ‘Fascination Street’ ‘Shake Dog Shake’ descend along with the twilight.
Perhaps the band decided that material from their anxiety dream montage 'Pornography' was simply too harrowing for the occasion, but particularly welcome is the inclusion of ‘Burn’, their sprawling addition to the soundtrack of 90’s goth noir film, The Crow.
As Smith whispers the menacing refrain to ‘Lullaby’, the final colours fade from the sky, kicking off an encore that bobs between gleeful abandon (‘Friday I’m In Love’, ‘Close To Me) and paying tribute to their taut, wiry beginnings (‘Grinding Halt’, ‘Killing An Arab’).
“If you’d asked me then what I thought I’d be doing in 40 years’ time, I couldn’t have told you it would be this,” says Smith at the end of an exceptional evening that’s lead the crowd right through the spectrum of human emotion. From the bowels of desolation to the giddy head- rush of love at first sight, The Cure make us feel every last heart wrench and beat. What a day. What a band.
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Words: Dannii Leivers
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