Where do you start?
How do you finish?
What can you say about perfection?
Which song made you cry with joy first?
Why didn’t you know before this that you loved them?
Who didn’t enjoy this?
When will we see something like this again?
The Cure have been around for as long as I have been alive.
If I was 26 that wouldn’t be particularly noteworthy but I’m 46 so it gives you some idea of their place in the fabric of British popular culture.
Tonight they closed the Glastonbury festival with a set and a performance that will live long in the memory.
In an earlier piece on the festival I had suggested that I wasn’t sure that they were the right band for this slot. In my head I imagined an indulgent, dark, brooding, suite of songs designed to highlight musical gifts over crowd pleasing. Deep cuts from long forgotten E.P’s. Forgotten tracks from the darkest corners of their catalogue.
What do I know?
This was more than anyone could reasonably, or realistically, have hoped for.
Songs to break your heart in two like “Plainsong” and its line about things running out like the end of the world.
Or “Pictures of You” and the greatest opening lines in pop music…maybe…
I’ve been looking so long at these pictures of you
That I almost believe that they’re real
I’ve been living so long with my pictures of you
That I almost believe that the pictures
Are all I can feel
Or…”…snow white, so delicate…”
Oh God, help me.
I’m crying as I type after crying as I listened.
Then the Gothic grandeur, the grand guignol of “Fascination Street”…
And I’m begging
To drag you down with me
To kick the last nail in
Yeah I like you in that
Like I like you to scream
But if you open your mouth
Then I can’t be responsible
For quite what goes in
Or to care what comes out
So just pull on your hair
Just pull on your pout
And let’s move to the beat
Like we know that it’s over
Romantic and dark.
Shocking and stark.
In equal parts.
Kiss her face.
Kiss her head.
It’s just like Heaven.
“Just Like Heaven”.
“Disintegration” was the first album I bought by The Cure.
I still have it.
I remember exactly where I was when I listened to it for the first time.
I can see the sun pouring in through the window of my bedroom.
Casting dancing sprites of light on the nineties wallpaper.
I can remember how I felt as it started and how different I felt when it ended.
Tonight they play the title track and I’m there again in that adolescent bedroom…full of fear and hope, scared and confident, broken and whole, acne ridden and fragile. A swirling mess, and mass, of emotions.
I don’t think I’ve ever realised how much The Cure have meant to me.
Tonight though each song brings a memory to mind and every lyric to my lips.
“In Between Days”? Every indie disco I ever went to.
“A Forest”? Buying my copy of “Staring at the Sea” from Sleeves in Kirkcaldy.
“Friday I’m In Love” Heading to her house after a week at University, ready for dancing and kissing and sleeping and trips to Blockbuster.
The soundtrack to my life.
Or bits of it.
Robert Smith sounds great tonight too.
Full of yearning.
When he sings “Lovesong” the only way to stop the tears from falling is to be dead or to have a wardrobe full of Paul Weller t-shirts. It’s gorgeous and true and sincere and…everything.
“You make me feel like I am free again”
Some people won’t get it.
A life free from challenge or heartache.
Middle of the road sorts.
A muddle of the ordinary.
But if you’ve ever heard the growl of the black dog, felt the breath of sadness, wondered if you were unlovable, then something like “Lovesong” is the arm around your shoulder, the kiss on the forehead, the offer of support, the reassurance of a friendly voice that makes everything seem, well, better.
This isn’t a “big” band going through the motions…churning out the hits…picking up the cheque and looking forward to the increase in streams on Spotify that this slot brings. This is something much more than that. This isn’t about “performance” either. This isn’t about musical prowess. This is about heart…and soul.
Heart and soul.
No special guests.
No ironic cover versions.