The Cure at Wembley Arena 01/12/16

The below review was published by The Upcoming, and is available there at


Some might doubt the stadium credentials of a band so associated with angsty teenage loneliness as The Cure. Can the personal and intimate connection to fans nurtured in millions of individual bedrooms translate to a crowd comprising tens of thousands?

Under Wembley Arena’s cavernous roof tonight, such concerns initially seem justified. Opener Out of this World, its droning intro issuing forth from an empty stage, seems a laconically misguided first step, failing to catch fire even as the black-clad heroes of the hour appear to rapturous applause. The show gets right on track immediately afterwards, however. With the trademark hook-laden synth-rock of Pictures of You, the veteran band begin to underline both the enormous songbook of hits they’ve built up over the course of a 40-year career, and a precision in performance honed during more than 70 dates that have preceded this one on a world tour celebrating that landmark.

The backcombed hair and heavy-handed approach to makeup that made him a cultural idol are no doubt a help, but Robert Smith gives no hint that he’s approaching 60. Rolling back the years with soaring, yearning vocals and uniquely fey stage presence, he leads masterful renditions of classics such as Lovesong and In Between Days (with no hint of irony as he belts out “Yesterday I got so old, I felt like I could die”.), holding the sell-out crowd in the palm of his hand.

While Smith is the only remaining founding member of The Cure, those around him still bring decades of experience to bear. Reeves Gabrels’s intricate effects-laden guitar lines weave beautifully with the frontman’s own rhythms, particularly on cuts from the group’s grungier 90s catalogue, such as From the Edge of the Deep Green Sea. Simon Gallup, with a frenetic punk presence slightly at odds with the understated calm of his bandmates, lays down bass lines that fill the room to the roof (and, in the case of A Forest, threaten to take it off).

No fewer than three encores crown a mammoth set, and provide the adoring masses the opportunity for joyous dancing to hits such as The Lovecats, Friday I’m in Love, and Boys Don’t Cry. Happy, sweaty, tired, those in attendance left having witnessed not only a true icon of British rock history, but also one of the best live acts on tour in 2016.

Verdict: 5 stars