The Cure - 'Bestival Live 2011' album review

'A glimpse of intense majesty rarely witnessed on large stages'

Chris Swindells - 01 December 2011

Live releases are rarely a disappointment; bands only wish to immortalize their finer moments. This mammoth live recording creates a picture of The Cure that captures their full lifespan of brooding brilliance and subtly in a way that would fittingly garner the end of their career, if they were to bow out now.

What they deliver is intense, heart-pounding power and majesty rarely witnessed on such large stages. Playing at the time to two defined quarters - the hardcore fanbase and a group braying for the greatest hits – the ‘Bestival Live 2011’ album is two-and-half-hours that walks the tightrope between their schizophrenic past and finds refuge on the other side.

‘Plainsong’ is as non-urgent as any festival opener you will witness in 2011. As it so neatly set the tempo for their now critically-revered 1989 album ‘Disintegration’, here it kick starts the pulse of a LP that is arresting with every turn.

For the fair-weather fans, the hits are liberally sprinkled, dotted, almost in neat pairs, across the album. It isn’t long until ‘Lovesong’ and ‘Just Like Heaven’ interlock with each other. The live album captures, with some surprising clarity, the sonic nuances that Rob Smith and Co. ply into their every deliberate move and musical stroke. The crowd is very much in the supporting role as the four-piece play lead with a notable amount of star scenes.

They can make a million shades from the one palette and for a band that indulge in the futility of the everyday it’s the light rather than the dark that illuminates their canvas at Bestival. ‘Inbetween Days’ rips into the middle of the set, topping up the energy but still retaining every classical note.

Fan favourites like ‘A Forest’ retrain their rich mood of unsettling and taunting existential misery, but listening to this live recording there remains a benign feeling of missing the physical presence of the performance: the open air, the full moon, the warmth of the crowd. For those who were there, the CD will take you right back, and for those who weren’t the sense of missing out might be all too much.

’10.15 Saturday Night’, the very first track from their criminally overlooked debut is a great bookend, as part of the 12-song encore on the night. It has such vigour and youthful swagger with each scream and ‘drip.. drip.. drip’, it’s like Smith is still overcome with oomph, even 32 years since penning the lyrics. 

‘Bestival Live 2011’ is an essential for any self-respecting fan of The Cure, especially with it being the first live release of theirs since 1993. What may surprise though is this live record truly transcends the divide and could enrich any music fan’s collection, proving everyone can enjoy the warmth of The Cure in full flow.

Click to see an exclusive Rob da Bank video interview talking about The Cure playing at Bestival.

Buy 'Bestival Live 2011' on iTunes.
Buy 'Bestival Live 2011' on Amazon.

Virtual Festivals were at Bestival 2011 when The Cure wowed the main stage, read our 9/10 review of the show here and check out our pictures from the gig too.


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