Bravely, the band open with ‘Burn’; its long instrumental intro holding back the first lyrics, perhaps the most important moment of any tribute band show. If we were to close our eyes, does this sound like the real deal? Thankfully, Gary Clarke gets it spot-on, imitating Robert Smith’s distinctive, youthful vocals.
Technical problems early-on with an acoustic guitar prompt a dialogue between frontman and audience, something it would be hard to imagine from the famously introvert ‘poster child of doom and gloom’. Nonetheless, an excellent ‘From The Edge Of The Deep Green Sea’ more than makes up for the delay.
Throughout the first-half of the show Clarke gives the impression of being no Cure obsessive. He tells us that he discovered the band whist in pursuit of a young female, and when the conversation moves on to collectable double LPs, it is bassist Sean Flude - the “Cure nerd” - who is consulted as a final authority. The songs played early on, however, hardly suggest that there are any fair-weather fans on stage.
That being said, more upbeat Cure is impossible to ignore. To use Clarke’s own words, the band go “all poppy and sh*t now” as they rattle through ‘Primary’, ‘Pictures of You’, an excellent ‘Lullaby’, ‘Lovesong’, birthday request ‘Doing The Unstuck’, ‘In Between Days’, ‘Just Like Heaven’, and an extended rendition of ‘A Forest’.
‘Boys Don’t Cry’ and ‘Friday I’m In Love’ feature toward the end of a set which offers more than just the predictable hits. Impressively, The Cureheads do not fall into the trap of raw punk-type covers which a pub might lend itself to, but instead do justice to the more ethereal, atmospheric and complex nature of the songs.
On their website, The Cureheads state that they ‘don’t play very often’. On the basis of tonight’s impressive 90 minute plus show, that will be due to personal preference rather than a lack of demand.