Review by Chloe Gynne

London is high in temperature and spirit today. It’s a toasty 30° by 2pm and the streets are packed full of enthusiastic people. Some are off to Wireless up at Finsbury Park, but the waves of goths are the crowd for tonight’s Cure show at Hyde Park, part of the incredible British Summer Time Festival.

Two other major events have clearly had an impact on attendance early in the day. The first is the World Cup quarter final, which British Summer Time have chosen, bafflingly, not to air, leaving Editors with a half empty crowd, many of whom are trying to stream the game on their phones. Abstract cheers during goals- and a few near misses- serve as a reminder that this crowd has their mind on something other than the band they see before them.

The second is Pride, which many attendees left in time to catch Goldfrapp’s set. They brought Pride to the park, though, dedicating ‘Ride A White Horse’ to the LGBTQ+ community. While they do manage to pull a crowd in and deliver hits ‘Number 1’ and ‘Ooh La La’ with ease, the front rows, now regretting picking out a black outfit, are wilting in the heat, and struggle to dance along.

The need for a little shade draws a crowd to the Summer Stage, a small bandstand covered by trees. Synthy gloom, courtesy of Iceland’s Kælan Mikla, lures even the most heat-stroked shade-dwellers to the front of the stage. They’ve found their audience here- one which understands their new take on a nostalgic sound, and embraces it wholeheartedly. Kathryn Joseph follows, her haunting, uttered vocals underlined by sublime, sparse piano. She provides calm at just the right moment, and gains some new fans in the process.

Interpol welcome the few thousand football fans that begin to filter in during the start of their set. Their enthusiasm is contagious; sing-alongs are rife for classics ‘Slow Hands’ and ‘Evil’, and the band reward us with an airing of ‘The Rover’, a brand new single from their upcoming album.

The_Cure_Tom_Hancock_1

Photo courtesy of BST by Tom Hancock

When The Cure come to the stage, it’s still light out, and it’s not just the crowd who feels weird about it. Robert Smith himself jokes that he can’t talk to us until the sun goes down, “or I’ll dissolve into a pile of dust”. It takes a while for the band to find their pace, going through ‘Plainsong’ and ‘High’ all too formulaically.

But then the golden hour hits and something flips, both with the band and the crowd. Lovesong is nostalgic in all the right ways- gloomy like a sunset straight from your teen years, one spent pining over someone and praying the temperature cools- and the back half of this 80,000 strong audience seem to have some sort of energy boost, eyes glued to what they can see of the stage.

And from there on, it’s all bliss; they roll straight from ‘In Between Days’ to ‘Just Like Heaven’, teens reciting lyrics alongside their parents. Compared to a standard Cure setlist, this one is much more hit-heavy, perhaps due to a strict curfew or perhaps, wisely, to ensure every member of this crowd enjoys every moment of the set.

But it’s the band’s unbridled enjoyment of their own songs that connects the casual fan to those who glued themselves to the barrier when gates opened at midday. Those superfans have heard set staple ‘A Forest’ a dozen times over, but there’s something about the energy tonight- a free-spirited, positive attitude London crowds don’t often adopt- that gives it a new lease of life.

After a pointlessly brief moment offstage, the band start up again with ‘Lullaby’, sultry and smooth and perfectly suited to the moment. And as the crowd tries to calculate which hits they haven’t pulled out of the bag yet, Smith says, joyously, “It’s the wrong day but- who cares!,” before launching into a jubilant rendition of ‘Friday I’m In Love’. Yet again, they keep the energy up with ‘Close To Me’, Smith watching over this crowd of happy faces, singing along.

As promised, he spoke a little more once the sun had disappeared. Tonight is a celebration of the band’s 40 year anniversary- a fact hard to fathom considering the energy of their performance- and Smith, as nostalgic as his captive crowd, told stories of first gigs and memories of way back when.

In recognition of how far they’ve come, they close the set with 5 tracks from debut ‘Three Imaginary Boys’.  Naturally, ‘Boy’s Don’t Cry’ is part of the quintet, but it’s ‘Jumping Someone Else’s Train’ that hits the hardest, its frantic energy and primitive post-punk sound still relevant today.

For most of this crowd, the show is a cathartic walk down memory lane; a reminder of a band that, at one point, they loved. And for those people, they truly delivered. But equally, it is a special night for those who’ve seen them a thousand times; a reminder of exactly why this band- and our nation’s love for this band- has lasted 40 fruitful years.

Footnote:

About Barclaycard presents British Summer Time Hyde Park

Set in London’s beautiful Royal Park, the event kicked off in 2013 with The Rolling Stones reliving their legendary 1969 gig and has not let up since, featuring now famous shows from Carole King, Stevie Wonder, The Libertines, Blur, Florence + The Machine, Kendrick Lamar, Black Sabbath, Taylor Swift, The Who and so many more.

Every year, each headliner is joined by a full supporting line-up across multiple stages, from major superstars to handpicked developing acts performing for fans from across the UK and the world.

Leave a Reply