Deputy Culture Editor – Music
As their first show on Scottish soil in 27 years, I’m unsure what to expect from NME’s New Wave poster boys – especially since this is my first time viewing them in the flesh. This year the band also celebrate the 30th anniversary of Disintegration, a monolithic album made for all the literary romantics out there, as they clutch their editions of Keats and brood in tortured contemplation. The Cure fuelled my childhood, so I’m expecting a heavy nostalgia trip down memory lane. The entry to Bellahouston Park is fairly straightforward, and I arm myself with an overpriced beer to await their supporting acts.
The Twilight Sad stand out for me as they perform a gut-wrenching cover of Frightened Rabbit’s Keep Yourself Warm in tribute to recently deceased frontman Scott Hutchison. We witness the trembling vocals of James Graham as he battles to hold back the tears during this haunting rendition. It is an emotional cornucopia of love, loss and hope and I’m captivated by tender instrumentals that puncture my soul.
In-between acts, the sky cries so hard it soaks through my leather pants as I wince and wade through a squelching mud-bath to get to the stage. My decision to wear leather flares is not a particularly intelligent one. As if on cue, The Cure take to the stage as the heavens open up. If that’s not prophetic then what is?
Oh Robert Smith. He appears in all his gothic glory, sporting hair that should have its own electrical charge and a crimson smeared smile. As the opening notes of Plainsong begin, The macabre king beckons to his crowd and cordially invites us on a journey into the strange. The band is shrouded in an ambient mist, and during Pictures of You their images are reflected onto the backdrop like ghostly apparitions. Hats off to their production team, for the visuals and lighting are matched to encapsulate the theme of each individual song. It’s like I’m watching an MTV music video and a stomping live set at the same time. I get sentimental when they play Lovesong as there are couples next to me locked in a tight embrace. The track was written as a present for Robert Smith’s fiancee, and he translates this romantic offering rapturously onstage. My heart pangs with the longing to share this moment with a loved one too.
Smith whips out a tribal recorder mid-set and I’m hardly surprised – I live for these theatrics. The iconic bassline sequence of Fascination Street is paired with a kaleidoscopic backdrop of psychedelic colour and I feel like I’m on an acid trip. It is a highlight of the night, as the whole audience congregates into a collective mass of bobbing heads and flailing limbs. I drink up the bassline like I’m drinking my pint of Tennants: hungrily and in a state of complete ecstasy. From that point onwards the mood of the crowd never falters, from the body-poppin’ funk-rock of Never Enough to the whimsical nostalgia of Just Like Heaven. We are enchanted, we are enthralled, we are electrified. The sky adopts a dusky pink hue as nightfall descends, and Smith stretches his vocal ability to its maximum capacity in Disintegration, a prodigious epic that is only enhanced by the shifting skyline and fleeting clouds. The atmosphere feels almost biblical, and I’m so thankful to play a part in this monumental show.
Smith’s vocals are impeccable throughout the night, so much so that I can hardly believe he is real. At 60 years of age this is a truly impressive feat. Near the end of the show he addresses his audience, lamenting “I don’t know why it’s taken so long to get us back here”. During the encore, they explode into seminal classics Friday I’m in Love, Closer to Me and Boys Don’t Cry at the climax of the show. As the most commercially played and pop-friendly tracks, they are an ideal end to the night. Figures of all ages collectively cut shapes in the mud, dancing through the sludge and brandishing their cups in a toast to the band.
We leave with glazed eyes and in high spirits. My mud-stained flares glimmer wickedly in the moonlight and we chant the riff to Boys Don’t Cry all the way down to the seedy backstreets of Ibrox.
Robert Smith, you’re my hero.