The Bestival Live 2011
Yes, it’s another live Cure album. This one’s from their acclaimed Bestival 2011 date, their first official live release since 1993’s Paris and Show, and it’s a monster, a two disc, thirty-two song affair that culls the best known tracks from the band’s formidable history. Starting with “Plainsong” from Disintegration and ending with “Killing An Arab” (sorry, but I refuse to say “Killing Another” since the damn song’s about Camus and not murder, and anyway, political correctness is killing free expression) from their 1979 debut Three Imaginary Boys, the live set touches on tracks from every album in their history except for Wild Mood Swings from 1996 and 2000’s Bloodflowers.
Throughout, the band sound energized, as if playing for more than just the fans (all sales proceeds of the album benefit the Isle of Wight Youth Trust ( www.iowyouthtrust.co.uk ) invigorated them. The readings of concert staples like ‘Fascination Street,’ ‘Just Like Heaven,’ ‘Inbetween Days,’ and ‘The Walk’ are as straightforward as ever, but there’s a lightness in Robert Smith’s voice, as if he’s finally gotten around to enjoying the songs he’s built a career on.
Production of the album is pristine. It’s nice to hear Roger O’Donnell back in the band, as his keyboards really fill in a lot of the pieces that were missed (at least by this writer and longtime fan) on their 2008 all-guitar tour. Smith’s vocals are, as usual, mixed so high he might as well be in your living room or passenger seat, and the guitars chime and the bass drones accordingly. The drums, strangely enough, sound a bit muted, just like on last year’s remastered Entreat, but they’re still audible and, though they don’t quite groove, move the rest of the musicians along nicely.
In the end, these days, we know what we’re getting from a live Cure release. There are few surprises, but it’s still a fun listen. Fun? The Cure? Yes, and though there’s nothing really too new here, save for a live reading of ‘The End of the World’ from their self-titled album, or ‘The Only One’ and ‘The Hungry Ghost’ from the otherwise unfortunate 4:13 Dream, this is still a worthwhile addition to casual and rabid fans alike. Plus, you’ll know your money’s going to a good cause.
The album is out in standard and digital formats on December 5th (6th in North America) via Sunday’s Best Recordings. Check the setlist, and enjoy.