THE CURE, Teenage Cancer Trust at the Albert Hall – Evening Standard, 31 March 2014

Even at £100 for a ticket, no Cure fan could have felt short-changed by the band’s heroic three-and-a-half hour set for Teenage Cancer Trust this weekend. I needed a sports massage and a recovery shake after 45 songs by Robert Smith and his current cohorts.

Lipstick-slathered with hedge-backwards hair as ever, Smith continues to look like the world’s most disappointing strippagram, yet in other respects the caricatured view of his band is false. The stately gloom of the opener, Plainsong, may be what they do best but here there was plenty of room for highs as well as lows.

The arrival of the first hit, Inbetween Days, seven songs in produced a palpable uplift in the audience. A finer, more inventive pure pop song than Close to Me would be hard to find. On Mint Car, the black-clad singer could be heard claiming, improbably, “I’m so fizzy I could burst!”

He announced that this would be “a slow-burning set list” because it wasn’t a festival, ergo there was no need to race to the classics for casual bystanders.

However, even the superfans (who were hard to spot — disappointingly, unlike Morrissey and Paul Weller worshippers, no one still sports the hairdo in middle age) must have found their attention wandering during long troughs of lesser album tracks.

This was not an indulgent set in the usual sense — there were no meandering guitar solos, no prolonged call-and-response routines with the crowd — just song after song after song until it felt like their two nights at the Royal Albert Hall was actually going to be a single monster show.

A pummelling Killing an Arab formed a mighty, curfew-busting conclusion but there is a good reason why most gigs draw the curtain at around two hours — and it isn’t just lack of material. Excess can be a numbing thing.