Music review: The Cure, Hydro, Glasgow

The Cure’s current incarnation is a compelling model for bands who might be described as “heritage”, yet whose music is evolving into something timeless, writes David Pollock

The Cure, Hydro, Glasgow *****

“This is a song we've played forever and it's only in the last few weeks I've realised what it's about – it sounds silly,” said Robert Smith by way of introduction to the lacerating Shake Dog Shake from the Cure’s 1984 The Top album. He made this point, and then proceeded to not tell his audience what the song was about – the beautiful mystery of the Cure remains preserved.

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The many lives of the Cure resonate through their current live set, but especially their early days of gothic post-punk mystery (Play for Today, A Forest) and the international indie-pop years around the turn of the 1990s (Pictures of You, Lovesong). Their current incarnation is a compelling model for bands who might be described as “heritage”, yet whose music is evolving into something timeless.

The Cure at the Hydro, Glasgow PIC: Calum Buchan Photography

Amid an unfussy stage set-up of blazing lights and an occasionally-used video backdrop, they ventured deep into the hinterlands of their back catalogue; Jason Cooper’s thunderous drumming was showcased on Burn and Reeves Gabrels’ spiky guitar was to the fore on Push.

There was new music, including the lovelorn A Fragile Thing, while the haunting, climactic diptych of From the Edge of the Deep Green Sea and Endsong was as mighty an emotional onslaught as any of the great rock groups might conjure. Smith paid tribute to his late brother with I Can Never Say Goodbye, and the backdrop to One Hundred Years brought images of industrial wars gone by.

“It’s a fine line in this band,” said Smith. “You get so involved in it, it’s not like a ‘show’ show. I know you get it… I'm going to start crying in a minute.” After two hours of elegiac emotional power, very few bands have the catalogue to come back with 45 minutes of greatest hits, but The Cure did, from the haunting Lullaby and Close to Me, to the joyful Friday I’m in Love and Boys Don’t Cry. We got it all right.