In a year when nostalgia has been derided from every angle, The Cure headlining Bestival seemed to be going completely against the current shared feeling in music. After all, they were hardly likely to be playing a set comprised of entirely new (or at least more recent) tracks, especially given their recent Reflections gigs. But as Robert Smith and his band stood on the festival’s main stage, they proved that looking back doesn’t always have to be a bad thing.
Captured on Bestival Live 2011 are 32 tracks that prove exactly that. From the opening strains of ‘Plainsong’ right through to ‘Killing Another’ (better known to most as ‘Killing An Arab’), it’s a wistful, fun run through of some of the most vital songs of the last 35 years.
Listening to this album, however, is not a wholly positive experience, however. The Cure’s biggest hits are stripped of their magic on these recordings, left lacking in energy and emotion. ‘Boys Don’t Cry’ finds Smith sounding utterly bored, singing it as if he has to not because he wants to. His apathetic monotone does add a tinge of despondency to the song but otherwise lets it down entirely. ‘Friday I’m In Love’, whilst sung with a bit more enthusiasm, is stripped of the irresistible giddy rushes of the original and, even though it gets a mammoth cheer from the crowd at its start, ‘The Lovecats’ takes some time to slip into its groove.
That said, for the most part Bestival Live 2011 is spellbindingly brilliant, a masterclass in recreating classic songs on a festival stage. ‘Fascination Street’ still thrums with excitement whilst ’10:15 Saturday Night’ is as hypnotic as it ever was – prove that The Cure have still got it, they’re just a bit tired of certain songs.