The Cure – SSE Arena, London ( December 3, 2016)

Anyone remember The Cure?

They were big in the 1980s, a bit like Duran Duran. But with worse hair and a reputation for depressing songs about photographs and cats.

I like them, I have several of their albums and no less than two cats myself now.

A journey to London to see them seemed like a good idea nine months ago. What I forgot to factor in was 12,500 people also thinking it would be a nice pre-Christmas day out.

What a great thing the London underground is, it can take you to A to B with the minimum of fuss, fellow passengers are so friendly and talkative and the use of an Oyster card makes paying a stress free transaction, and the seats are so spacious and comfortable. I love sarcasm don’t you ?

I have never walked the length of one of the corridors of the huge, pretend Nostromo deep space mining craft (Alien). But the dangerous and lengthy walk to the allotted seating area at the SSE Arena seemed life threateningly perilous. We were assailed by airborne hot dogs as well as tidal waves of overpriced lager and only managed to find our sets by the use of undignified kneeling on the steps and looking with magnifying glasses for microscopic seat numbers.


At 8:15pm we finally squint to see some tiny figures on the horizon, which I am reliably informed is The Cure. There then followed a marathon goth endurance test. Almost three hours of peaks, troughs and horrible guitar solos, but not necessarily in that order.

Robert Smith (aged around 107) has turned into the chap on the Uriah Heep album sleeve ‘Very ‘Eavy, Very ‘Umble’ (that is the last time i’ll ever mention Uriah Heep on this website, promise).

The last time I saw him was as a temporary member in Siouxsie and the Banshees in 1979, a mere callow youth and sadly time has not been kind. Fortunately Smith’s visage is not of great importance, it’s the music we’re here for. But if they do Lovecats I’m leaving.

In a set of no less than thirty two songs there’s something for everyone, including plinkety plonkety nursery rhyme rock such as Close to Me and Why Can’t I Be You

There’s great big rollocking tracks like Push and Never Again and an especially monstrous version of Shake Dog Shake.

There’s the sad, doomed angsty epics  Photos of You and Open. For the tortured souls among us (that’ll be me then ) a terrifying  A Thousand Years, complete with a backdrop of harrowing war images, probably borrowed off Morrissey, and a lengthy and menacing A Forest.

Yet not surprisingly it’s the massive poppy hits like Friday I’m in Love, In Between Days, Caterpillar and Just Like Heaven that get the greatest crowd response.

One new track only, It Can Never Be the Same, which was quite brilliant.

The final flurry of numbers finally get me off my arse: 10.15 Saturday Night. Three Imaginary Boys, a superb Boys Don’t Cry and finally Killing an Arab. This is always a great track and here made even better by being given a totally over the top treatment.

In the end we learn two things.

The Cure are basically music for girls who still believe in the conceit of romantic love and that hot dogs are not aero-dynamically designed to fly in indoor arenas.

Oh! And no Lovecats…result !

By John Haylock



John Haylock

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