It would be remiss of us not to kick-off this rundown with the main man himself, the unmistakable silhouette of the festival’s curator, Robert Smith. Captured here performing on stage as part of the festival’s final gig - Cureation 25 - Smith pulled together a frankly epic array of live music talent to make this festival such a huge success.
Tickets to see Cleveland’s finest, Nine Inch Nails, were some of the most sought after of the festival and their incredible Royal Festival Hall set showed exactly why.
It’s always great to see a band and audience in complete harmony, something emphasised by Maybeshewill. Playing their first gig together since disbanding back in 2016, they clearly relished the opportunity.
There was a decidedly international feel to Robert Smith’s Meltdown and flying the flag for France, and Occitanie in particular, were blackgaze band, Alcest.
‘It's clear that this is a Death Cab For Cutie who aren't messing around,’ said The Independent’s Ryan Butcher of their Meltdown set; the band putting on a set that showed ‘they have no intention of winding things down just yet’.
This Meltdown festival wasn’t all big guitars and big noise though, there were also more stripped back moments, such as the performances of cellist Jo Quail in Queen Elizabeth Hall.
And nor was it a Meltdown just about the established names, with free performances on our outdoor stage on both weekend, offering a chance to see bands like the Netherlands’ Blue Crime, above.
The threat of rain meant that the outdoor stage was brought indoors on the first Sunday, but that certainly didn’t stop False Advertising from giving it their all.
Deftones were another band who had devoted fans scrabbling for tickets ahead of their performance, and just like Nine Inch Nails they didn’t disappoint, delivering ‘a showpiece gig that shows why they deserve reverence,’ according to The Guardian.
Our Concrete Lates series was weaved into the Meltdown menu for the duration of the festival with Leeds-based electronic music group Vessels taking the helm on the first Saturday of Meltdown for a memorable part live, part DJ set.
Singer-songwriter and Throwing Muses founder Kristin Hersh told us that she prefers the noise of playing in bands, but that certainly didn’t show in her stripped back performance in Queen Elizabeth Hall.
Meltdown was also the place to see exclusives too, as Vex Red took to the stage of Purcell Room on the Tuesday of the festival to give a first full performance of their classic 2002 album Start with a Strong and Persistent Desire.
Purcell Room was also the place to find Swedish experimental instrumentalists pg.lost and experience their incredible soundscapes.
Rightly, the final gig of this incredible Meltdown belonged to Smith, as Cureation-25 took the stage for, what Alexis Petridis in The Guardian labelled ‘a scenic-route excursion through The Cure’s career,’ A set very much for the fans. Luckily we’d packed 2,500 of them into the room, and as Petridis observed ‘the audience are so devoted they greet album cuts as deep as Alt.end like hit singles.’ A fittingly deeply connected end performance to what has been such a multi-layered week of live music love.