The Cure don't do themselves Justice on Thursday at Rock Werchter

Rock Werchter 2012 review

By James Hyde | Published: Thu 5th Jul 2012


Thursday 28th June to Sunday 1st July 2012
Werchter, Rotselaar, Belgium, Belgium
79 Euros - sold out
Daily capacity: 80,000
Last updated: Thu 24th May 2012

After an arduous overnight journey to Belgium and some trouble getting in (despite the efforts of the extremely helpful security people), I couldn't wait to start listening to some music. The task of opening this year's Rock Werchter fell to Canadian indie rockers Metric, and the Toronto four-piece also had the honour of playing the first ever set in Werchter's new stage, The Barn; it was a good one. Vocalist Emily Haines is intriguingly dynamic and the 45-minute set swept by surprisingly quickly. A rousing finale of 'Guns And Girls' followed by 'Dead Disco' sent the audience away happy and overall it was rather impressive.

I made the five-minute journey to the main stage next to watch All-American Rejects. After a decent opening with 'Dirty Little Secret', the Oklahoma outfit didn't quite manage to build on the foundation they'd created. Lead vocalist Tyson Ritter struggled to maintain the band's rock and roll image (he offered the audience sandwiches at one point) and despite a good level of enthusiasm this didn't really do it for me.

Back to The Barn, then, and a terrific performance from Bombay Bicycle Club. Despite the sweltering heat in the tent, the audience really seemed to be swept away by the bouncy Londoners. Highlights included 'How Can You Swallow So Much Sleep' and an effervescent rendition of 'Always Like This'. BBC are still seen by many as an up-and-coming act, but with this sort of quality they’ll be playing on the main stage here very soon.

The stifling temperature in the Barn persuaded me to pass up the opportunity of watching The Maccabees there, and instead I travelled back to the main stage for Illinois kings of punk, Rise Against. It's difficult to criticise their set, as it's immaculately performed and well received by the huge main stage audience, but it just wasn't really my thing.

Next to grace the main stage was Blink 182. They started superbly with 'Feeling This', and continued in much the same vein for the remainder of their hour-long set. Travis Barker's drumming was absolutely incredible, Tom Delonge and Mark Hoppus share some entertaining( if slightly juvenile) banter, and they played all their most important songs including 'All the Small Things' and 'I Miss You'. Impressive stuff.

I stayed around on the main stage to watch Mancunian band Elbow for the fourth time in as many years, and once again I was completely mesmerised by them. Genial frontman Guy Garvey gets the crowd involved brilliantly, and despite a dreadful sound bleed from the Pyramid Marquee ruining a beautiful rendition of 'Weather to Fly', this was an otherwise immaculate performance. Watching Elbow perform 'One Day Like This' at sunset is one of the most perfect experiences you can ever have, and the entire crowd seemed captivated. A really special band.

Headlining the main stage on Thursday were alternative rock legends The Cure, and while it may seem like heresy I really wasn't that impressed. Robert Smith's vocals are still fantastic and it's impossible to overlook the Sussex band's vast body of work, but their live show was nothing special. An encore of 'Boys Don't Cry' was magnificent and a fantastic finale, but I struggled to recognise that I was watching one of the seminal acts of the last thirty years. I was just a bit underwhelmed by it all.

Last on the main stage were French electronic duo, Justice. After an incredible start with 'Genesis', they set about living up to their reputation as the best French house act since Daft Punk. Their triumphant single 'D.A.N.C.E' was the highlight, but the whole thing was brilliant and it was a great end to a decent day in Werchter.

review by: James Hyde

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