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The Cure overcome gremlins to close Croatia’s INMusic Festival in dark but dazzling form

Robert Smith's lot were hit with sound issues, but powered through with a two-hour-plus set of hits and howls.

The spider man is having bugs for dinner tonight. “A long time ago I’d say I’ve been taking too many drugs,” Robert Smith explains, apologising for choking a lyric, “but I actually swallowed an insect…”

The lord of the flies has drawn millions of his tiny winged subjects to the main stage of INmusic’s final day, and the week’s biggest crowd of human devotees too. And he treats them all to two hours plus of alt-pop majesty and sky-scorching atmos-rock, in almost equal measure. He tempts us in gently – opening with an oceanic ‘Plainsong’, Smith leads The Cure straight into ‘Pictures Of You’ – the sound of a regretful Tinkerbell – and ‘High’, building a lustrous vibe ahead of a set speckled with stone cold classics.

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The hits are dropped through a perfectly balanced 135 minutes like a trail of candy through some haunted woods. ‘Lovesong’ is a gleaming treat of a song sandwiched between an intense, glowering ‘Just One Kiss’ and the thumping tribalism of ‘Last Dance’. A dynamic ‘Never Enough’ eases us into eviscerating runs through ‘From The Edge Of The Deep Green Sea’ and ‘A Night Like This’, during which the sound cuts out for a good few minutes and the band plough manfully on until its restored.

It’s lost time swiftly made up for with breezy blows through ‘In Between Days’ and ‘Just Like Heaven’, and though a dour late-set section involving ‘Disintegration’, ‘Shake Dog Shake’ and ‘39’ drags, Smith has the encore of your darkest dreams up his sleeve. From ‘Lullaby’ to ‘The Caterpillar’, ‘Friday, I’m In Love’ to ‘Close To Me’ and a final, calmed-with-age ‘Boys Don’t Cry’, it’s a run of tunes that only the likes of McCartney and the Stones can match.

 

Cure-like strains had been wafting across the site all day. Italy’s Joycut earlier deliver a set of wailing deep beat dark wave, and The Ills, likewise, spin webs of mathsy alt-rock with the odd dash of jazz metal. But American uke-opera newcomer LP is a welcome splash of colour across the main stage. Dressed like Greta Van Fleet on a Hawaiian holiday, she somehow gets away with mingling neo soul, Baltic folk, future funk, country rock and Wagnerian arias – no mean feat, you try it.

 

Hints of classic ‘70s rock are dropped in too, warming us up for her big rock finale, smashing her drummer’s cymbal with her tambourine and biting bugs out of the air like a small-time Ozzy Osbourne. It all ends with a mass R’n’B-rock singalong to ‘Lost On You’, another high-point from a festival that boasted multitudes.

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