The Cure shambled onstage with little fanfare. The bright lights dimmed, the smoke machine puffed and then there they were, drowning Vector Arena in the melancholic and measured majesty of Plainsong.

An odd opening song choice, perhaps, being neither hyped nor urgent. But it's unrivalled grandeur seemed fittingly appropriate and set a suitably epic atmosphere for the almost three hours of music to follow.

It would prove to be a night of wild mood swings, the band leading us through a setlist that switched from frenzied urgency to delirious pop without missing a beat.

The Cure perform at the Vector Arena, Auckland. Photo / Michael Craig
The Cure perform at the Vector Arena, Auckland. Photo / Michael Craig

A lively rendition of Pictures of You saw bassist Simon Gallup displaying his punk heritage, prowling the stage and giving his amp the odd kick for good measure. In contrast, synth player Roger O'Donnell was as still and icy as the all enveloping riff he played on Closedown.


It was hopeful to think the band might continue with a full playthrough of Disintegration. Instead they veered into A Night Like This, which gave guitar maestro Reeves Gabrels his first chance to let loose with a squawking and ferocious solo.

Things got bouncy with Push and In Between Days before Robert Smith's first bit of banter.

"It's been ages since we played this song..." he teased, "Only on Fridays. But that's... all behind us."

I'm not entirely sure what he meant by that. I'm not entirely sure he knew. But Friday I'm In Love - the most divisive of Cure songs - absolutely killed with its infectious joy.

The Cure's Robert Smith. Photo / Michael Craig
The Cure's Robert Smith. Photo / Michael Craig

It was immediately followed by Catch, one of the prettiest songs Smith ever wrote.

But really, there were too many highlights to register. With recognisable radio hits like Just Like Heaven, Close To Me and Lullaby nestling up beside deep obscurities like Burn from The Crow soundtrack and Wrong Number, a song that only appears on the singles compilation Galore.

But the swirling aggressive guitars of From the Edge of the Deep Green Sea, the indie dance pop of The Walk and the motorik claustrophobia of A Forest would have to be the standouts in a set bursting with them.

What impresses most is the intensity of The Cure's performance. They don't sound like old rock and roll royalty slickly running through the hits. Instead, they remain urgent and vital.


With 13 records to choose from and a varied and diverse fanbase that includes die hards and pop casuals, the band did an admirable job of the impossible; keeping everybody happy.

"We don't come here often," Smith mumbled as way of warning that a run of crowd pleasers was drawing to a close. "So this is a selection of songs. If you don't know one song, you'll know the next one. Or the one after that."

There were four encores and almost three hours of intense performance, but it wasn't nearly enough. But as the song goes, there's never enough.