And when they got to the end - they turned around, and went back again
“Who is Robert Smith?” asks a man a couple of rows back. The woozy reply follows that “Everybody here is Robert Smith. I am Robert Smith. You are Robert Smith. The kid dancing in the aisles is Robert Smith.” It’s a statement not unbefitting of the cult fanbase The Cure has acquired over the years from an infectious and largely inoffensive collection of songs. It’s not wholly incorrect either. A man in Row C actually could be Robert Smith. A Reading FC flag is draped over the synth. The Southbank has been caked in industrial levels of beer, hairspray and gel. The iconic bird’s nest is ubiquitous, light a match and the whole place will be ablaze.
There is a reason Meltdown is the UK’s longest running artist-curated festival. Across its 25-year history the 10-day extravaganza has delved into the various worlds of the musical pantheon, from David Bowie to Patti Smith to Yoko Ono and M.I.A. Last year, this kingship was traded for carnival, with a heart of outlaws and activism introducing the most renowned concert halls to Giggs, Mykki Blanco, Young Fathers and Princess Nokia. This time we’re back, somewhat, with music’s establishment – there does seem to be a running joke on the inside, that you’re making people sit in a concert hall while you hit them with a healthy dose of Deftones, Placebo and YONAKA.
“I never thought I’d be standing on this stage,” admits Smith, “but I guess that’s what Meltdown is.” The previous nine days have seen some electrifying performances from the visually hypnotic Loop to the indie-electronic nostalgia of The Notwist. Earlier in the day, Pumarosa twisted their punk heavy debut ‘The Witch’ in full sunshine with dizzy electronics that would make Sylvan Esso drool, with ‘CORBYN’ scrawled in neon green paint across any instrument with enough space to admit it.