The Cure live in London: an unusual, but thrilling festive party

OVO Arena Wembley, December 11: With bittersweet songs that "won't be new for much longer", Robert Smith and co's "Sunday night disco" was worth the wait

“Oh, it’s a real Sunday night disco!” chuckles The Cure frontman Robert Smith after an apt outing of the bleak and underrated ‘The Last Day Of Summer’ as the snow pelts down outside. The melodrama and gloom create for an unusual but thrilling Christmas party, and Paul Weller is not invited.

This is the first of three sold-out Wembley shows, and the last of their lengthy Lost World Tour. Its name comes from the long overdue ‘Songs Of A Lost World’ – the band’s first new album since 2008’s ‘4:13 Dream’. Smith has repeatedly teased the record to NME as a dark, “merciless, relentless” piece, inspired by a period of good loss and in a similar spirit to their 1989 gothic art-rock masterpiece ‘Disintegration’. He also said that the album would be out by now, but hey ho; at least we’re treated to five of the new album’s 12 tracks tonight.

The first boldly comes in the form of set opener ‘Alone’; a majestic slow-burner that sets the tone with a sigh as Smith squares up to the inevitability of death: “This is the end of every song we sing”. It’s a theme repeated in ‘And Nothing Is Forever’, a number with that bittersweet lightness you love from ‘Plainsong’ that has the frontman create peace with an approaching end: “And I know – I know – my world has grown old, but it really doesn’t matter if you say we’ll be together”.

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The Cure live at Wembley. Credit: Jim Dyson/Getty Images
Credit: Jim Dyson/Getty Images

The ticking clock piano rhythms and rolling bass of ‘A Fragile Thing’ accompany the promise that there’s “nothing you can do to change the end”, while ‘Endsong’ is a stunning, sprawling soundscape to portray Smith utterly missing in a universe where there’s “Nothing left of all I loved”. The truly devastating heart of the new material previewed comes with ‘I Can Never Say Goodbye’ – where howling guitars match the singer’s veneration of “shadows growing closer now” as “something wicked this way comes, to steal away my brother’s life”. You feel that these songs are for those who mean the world to him.

Beyond that, it’s the marathon Cure set you’ve come to know and love. For every dark moment like the prog-noir banger ‘Burn’, the bone-rattling ‘Shake Dog Shake’ or the gruelling post-punk ‘One Hundred Years’ with its accompanying atrocity exhibition, there’s the pure release of the loved-up ‘Pictures Of You’ or the frankly stupid spoils of the closing ecstatic hit parade encore – all with the band’s chemistry is aglow and a very chipper Smith’s voice sounding more powerful than ever. He promises that the new songs “won’t be new for much longer”. All we know is that it has been worth the wait.

The Cure, Wembley
Credit: Lorne Thomson/Redferns

The Cure played:

‘Alone’
‘Pictures of You’
‘A Night Like This’
‘Lovesong’
‘And Nothing Is Forever’
‘The Last Day of Summer’
‘Want’
‘A Fragile Thing’
‘Burn’
‘At Night’
‘A Strange Day’
‘The Hanging Garden’
‘Push’
‘Play for Today’
‘Shake Dog Shake’
‘From the Edge of the Deep Green Sea’
‘Endsong’

Encore:

‘I Can Never Say Goodbye’
‘Faith’
‘One Hundred Years’
‘A Forest’

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Encore 2:

‘Lullaby’
‘The Walk’
‘Friday I’m in Love’
‘Close to Me’
‘In Between Days’
‘Just Like Heaven’
‘Boys Don’t Cry’

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