The Cure – Leeds First Direct Arena – a live review

As a life-long fan of the sometimes playful, oft-moody Crawley outfit The Cure, it seems fitting that they are the subject of my first Songbird review!

Having formed in 1978 you’d think by now they’d have lost their joie de vie – or whatever the goth equivalent would be! – but as soon as the stage lights come on, and the band mooch to their respective positions and the opening refrains sound out, you know you’re in for a great evening.

As every Cure fan knows, you don’t hold your breath for the next Cure album! ‘Songs Of A Lost World’ will be album #14. It began life as the second LP for what Robert Smith wanted as a double album – 2008’s ‘4:13 Dream’ – with the bird-nest haired king of goth bemoaning the record label’s decision to only release a single vinyl album. This missing second was quickly, unofficially entitled ‘4:14 Scream’.

On and off since then, Robert has teased fans with comments that this would be released someday, only to then later seem to put this to one side with new material being recorded due to ‘4:14 Scream’ being of its time. And so we wait. Until now. Ish…

We were treated to 5 new songs tonight, with one of these – ‘Alone’ – replacing the usual opener of ‘Plainsong’, giving Robert the opportunity to do his usual stalk from one side of the stage to the other, always to the delight of the heavily-kohled devotees at the front. Despite him now being 63, his voice just seems to have gotten better, more confident yet still plaintive, angry-sounding at times, with the odd quip to the crowd. He looks to be enjoying himself already!

Former Bowie collaborator Reeves Gabrels on lead guitar stands out with his shock of white hair, only closely winning “which band member didn’t get the all-black memo” with drummer Jason Cooper thundering at the back with his blond locks. There are two keyboards again, with former roadie and band member Perry Bamonte back in the fold, joining Roger O’Donnell on keys. Leaving one of my favourite bass players, Simon Gallup, to make the most of any bit of spare space on the stage by his usual not being able to stand still; mounting monitors, jogging across to Reeves, scowling at the crowd, all whilst having one of the most low-slung basses I think I’ve seen.

After the newbie ‘Alone’ we’re treated to the gorgeous long-standing favourite ‘Pictures Of You’, still sounding as fresh as it did back at its birth during Disintegration back in 1989. Other crowd-pleasing staples – ‘A Night Like This’ and ‘Lovesong’ and then we’re presented with another new one, ‘And Nothing Is Forever’, before heading back to the back catalogue covering nearly every previous album, including my personal favourite Cure song fullstop, ‘Burn’ from the ill-fated Brandon Lee film The Crow; I’m singing my heart out at this point whilst trying to hold my phone still to capture it all on video.

The new ones from ‘Songs Of A Lost World’ have been influenced by the loss of some of Smith’s family – “I could die tonight of a broken heart,” sings Smith on ‘A Fragile Thing’ – including most recently his older brother, for whom ‘I Could Never Say Goodbye’ is a tribute with a Macbeth quote “Something wicked this way comes” preceding “To steal away my brother’s life”. Smith also seems tearful at one point. The first encore is a plaintive, emotional three songs…

The second encore however is pure Cure pop, with favourites Lullaby, Friday I’m In Love and Boys Don’t Cry among others getting the standing crowd bouncing along to Smith’s always-awkward dancing.

Nearly two and a half hours later and I’m sad it’s over. I wanted another encore; they’ve done it before!! Clutching my new Cure tote bag stuffed full of new Cure tees and hoodie, I leave the venue however feeling immensely happy – who would’ve thunk it that a band with such a gloomy image could instil this?! For me one of the best live bands out there!! I can’t wait for ‘Songs Of A Lost World’ to finally be released, if it ever will!! and in the meantime looking forward to 1992’s fantastic #1 album ‘Wish’’s 30th anniversary rerelease entering the charts with hopefully a Top 10!

Live review and all photographs by Kitty Smith