The Cure come alive in their latest release Bestival Live 2011
For the angst-ridden adolescent living in 2011, The Cure are by now an emo afterthought, some ancient English synth-pop relic of yesteryear shadowed entirely by the new brooding breed of Brand News and Boys Like Girls. But for those of us more than a few years removed from our old high school haunts they are the music that got us through, the downtrodden tonal melodies a generation sought refuge in.
Almost 20 years removed from their last live release, one might suspect a two-and-a-half hour, 32 track album to be a lofty charge for Rob Smith and co. but rather than sounding tired, worn and already buried The Cure are in rare form, alive with the same raw energy that brought them into the limelight in the late 80s.
From the building progression of “Plainsong” straight through to wily solos of “End” and followed up by a 12-song encore, Bestival Live 2011 touches on all the bands highs and lows. Be it the shifting moods of “Forest,” the haunting drones of “Lullaby” or the ever-adaptable, never-sung-the-same-way-twice show of “Close To Me,” the album is a well-crafted timeline and homage to the bands range and progression.
Even if on occasion the casual fan might be caught wondering which album some song was on, the Bestival set list is careful to intertwine the bands’ hits, which oddly appear in twos (“Love Song/Just Like Heaven,” “Friday I’m in Love/Inbetween Days”) with its fan favorites (“10.15 Saturday Night”) and even ventures to bring some newer staples to the forefront (“The Hungry Ghost”).
Technically the album is a masterwork, maybe more complex than any Cure release before it with winding solos bridging the gaps between a steadily rising wave of synth. Though sometimes stretched, Smith’s vocals never seem to completely fail him nor does the energy, which brings to light what may be Bestivals only shortcoming; that it is so compelling, well-timed and rich, the listener may feel remiss in not having been in attendance for what was one of the most musically sound, high energy Cure concert in decades. And maybe one of the last.
For a band that has been in the business for over 35 years and relegated to almost cult status in the last decade, The Cure may be looking to bow out gracefully and if Bestival Live 2011 is a pseudo-Best Of, it has succeeded. It is a welcome relapse into days of old - the girls we never spoke to, the guys who always got them- and The Cure, all grown up still seem as comfortable playing the familiar catalogue as we are now with the teenage memories it elicits.
Best Tracks: "Plainsong," "The Hungry Ghost," "Caterpillar"
Skip These: "The Love Cats," "The Only One"