The Cure’s massive 45-song setlist for their first concert of 2014
On Friday night, The Cure returned to the stage for their first performance in 2014, appearing at London’s Royal Albert Hall as part of this year’s Teenage Cancer Trust Benefit. Despite six months off, the band showed little rust, as they tore through a 45-song set that was full of rarities and live debuts.
Among the highlights: the live debut of Disintegration-era B-Side “2 Late”, the first performance of Mixed Up B-Side “Harold and Joe” since 1991, and the first performance of “Jupiter Crash” since 2004. They also played “Freakshow” for the first time in six years during the second of three encores. See the full setlist below.
The Cure will perform again at Royal Albert Hall tomorrow night. Their only other confirmed performance is an appearance at Napa Valley’s Bottlerock Music Festival in May.
Robert Smith and his band of Goths played a three and a half-hour set in aid of the Teenage Cancer Trust. Charity's gain was Neil McCormick's loss.
Robert Smith and his band of Goth veterans played for three and a half hours at the Royal Albert Hall, the first of two nights in aid of the Teenage Cancer Trust. It made me wonder what they might be considered the cure for? Not boredom, at any rate.
Their fans, at least, were loud and appreciative as the five piece band thrashed and flanged, grooved and caterwauled through 45 songs spanning a 35 year recording career. This was The Cure’s first show of 2014, and they entered into it with typical commitment, emerging from a fog of dry ice with a driving beat and deep pushing bass, tidal waves of shimmery synths and effects-treated guitars. Smith’s quivery, thin, tremulous voice cut through with his very particular emotional intensity, like a lovelorn adolescent on the verge of a nervous breakdown. And so it went on. One song followed another with only slight variations in tempo and structure to distinguish them, the odd startling flash of lead guitar or particularly perky synth hook suddenly focusing the performance.
The Cure’s sound is thick and powerful, all meshed together to create a kind of luscious, swirling psychedelic mood that can become quite mesmerising, but the relentless sameness of each aspect of the performance made me wonder quite how they have maintained their status as British rock icons for such a long time.
I first saw them as a quartet in 1980, when they were just opening out from nervy, jangly, post-punk into something epic and expansive, full of experimental promise. I followed Smith’s progress as his hair expanded and lipstick reddened, while various changing line ups drilled a rich and almost feminine emotional seam though the thick, dark soup of rock that became known as Goth. But two hours into this set, as they shifted from false climax to false climax, almost every song starting up in an atmospheric blizzard of sound then building to an epic rush before petering out in Smith’s plaintive repeated vocal phrases, it struck me they had institutionalised a once adventurous approach. The Cure have, effectively, turned into a formulaic, Goth rock Status Quo.
I am tempted to say that by any objective criterion The Cure were tedious, but I am not sure there is any objective criterion at this kind of rock event, where to be a critic can feel like being the only atheist in church. In the first batch of 29 songs, they only played a handful of hit singles, each of which lifted the audience to their feet and inspired lusty singalongs. Yet even as they unveiled the live debut of another obscure album track or previously unperformed B-side, the crowd remained happy and attentive, perhaps assured by previous experience that they would eventually get to hear the Cure’s signature songs among a 16-song triple encore that lasted almost as long as the first set. Or maybe it just felt that way. Smith did offer the laughing admission that “it’s a strange set of songs we played there”, a point on which he and I can agree. At least it was all in aid of a good cause.
The Cure played an epic three hour set at London's Royal Albert Hall last night (March 28) - the first of two gigs this weekend at the iconic venue in aid of Teenage Cancer Trust.
Taking to the stage at 7.45pm, following an introduction to the evening by curator of the event Roger Daltrey, the uniformly black-clad quintet began with 'Plainsong', backed by a projection of a starlit sky. Moving through 'Prayers For Rain' and 'A Strange Day', the screen then changed to depict a desert scene and a psychedelic tie dye pattern while different shades of smoked billowed out behind the band.
'A Night Like This' elicited the first strong audience reaction of the night, following which singer Robert Smith addressed the audience, declaring that "It's a slow-burning set tonight. How many songs are we going to do? About 45". The group then continued into 'Stop Dead' and 'Push', before bring out classic track 'In Between Days' and rousing the sold out crowd to their feet.
The Cure then brought out '2 Late' - the B side to 1989 single 'Lovesong' - giving the track it's live debut. "I sing that song at home. It's one of the few songs I sing to myself when I'm doing stuff and I just realised the other day that I've been singing the wrong words for the last 25 years," joked Smith following the track before adding, "here's another one we haven't played for about 10 years". 'Jupiter Crash' followed, alongside 'Lovesong' and 'Mint Car' before Smith teased the audience, saying, "Guess what song this is? It happens once a week" and launched into a rapturously received 'Friday I'm In Love'.
Backed by a screen now showing the stage and crowd, the band then continued through the mid portion of their lengthy set, playing fan favourites including 'Pictures Of You', 'Lullaby', 'The Caterpillar' and 'The Walk' alongside another rarity, 'Harold and Joe' - which was prefaced by Smith informing the crowd that it was "another song we haven't played for a while. When I say a while, in Cure terms that's a lot of years".
'Just Like Heaven' provided another crowd-pleasing highlight before the band finished the main portion of their set with 'Wrong Number', 'One Hundred Years' and 'Disintegration'.
Returning for the first encore of the night, Smith opened by saying that it was "a strange set of songs we're going to play now" and launching into 'If Only Tonight We Could Sleep'. 'Fascination Street' and 'Bananafishbones' followed, before they ended the encore with 'Play For Today' and 'A Forest' - both taken from 1980 album 'Seventeen Seconds'. The second encore featured a hit-packed set list including a sing-a-long 'The Love Cats', 'Let's Go To Bed', 'Close To Me' and 'Why Can't I Be You?' The band then retreated for one last time, drawing the audience in by saying "we'll see if we've got time for one more" before making their exit.
Coming back on for a final, third encore at gone 11pm, The Cure then kicked off with 'Boys Don't Cry' before moving into '10:15 Saturday Night', finishing with debut single 'Killing An Arab' and exiting to huge cheers from the crowd.
The Cure will play a second night at the Royal Albert Hall tonight (March 29), before Suede round off the series of Teenage Cancer Trust gigs on Sunday with an anniversary performance of second album 'Dog Man Star', which was released 20 years ago.
I liked that Consequence of Sound pointed out the playing of 2Late and Harold and Joe. I love the 2Late demo version(s) included on the Disintegration Deluxe (and elsewhere). Harold and Joe is available on the Lost Wishes 4-disc collection, although I think that's out of print.
The Telegraph review made me laugh, as the reviewer couldn't cite a single song played and claimed to have caught a 1980 show when they were still alive. I rather think their reviewer wrote the review ahead of time, and had to be told there were 45 songs and rarities in the set. If The Cure had played ten songs, the reviewer would still have said the same thing, but "by any objective criterion The Cure were tedious with their 10 song set". They would have said the same thing if it were 20 or 35 songs. Most likely they were watching a footy game on the telly and couldn't be bothered.
I actually didn't mind the NME review, at least they bothered researching the setlist. I would have loved to have heard A Night Like This, Play for Today, and If Only Tonight We Could Sleep.
Thanks for posting them, Pussycat and Steve!
Last Edit: Mar 30, 2014 8:43:49 GMT 1 by AForestFan
Thank you for posting these. The Telegraph review in particular amused me. Of course I hold a materially different view to Neil McCormick, but to suggest that:
"And so it went on. One song followed another with only slight variations in tempo and structure to distinguish them"
-particularly made me smile. If there was one thing that Friday night really brought home to me, it was the breadth of style, mood and texture that actually exists in their back-catalogue. At least he had the humility to admit that his was a minority view amongst those present.
"The Cure have, effectively, turned into a formulaic, Goth rock Status Quo." - love it!