The Cure

In Orange

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So called due to the location of the concert captured here -- in Orange, France, as part of the 1986 "beach party" tour -- The Cure in Orange remains one of the last honest-to-goodness concert films before most such live documents became specifically video or later Internet-only releases. Tim Pope, regular video director for the group since 1982, unsurprisingly does the honors for this. No interview snippets, narration, or background details crop up -- all it is, from beginning to end, is a concert film, intercutting various images, camera positions, and the like to create an overall experience. While it's just as easy to listen to the video as to watch it (the mixing and recording of the show is pristine and would have made an excellent live album), there's just enough going on to warrant more active attention. The quality of the performance itself is one reason why, thanks to the now-classic lineup of Boris Williams on drums, Porl Thompson on guitar and keyboards, and Simon Gallup on bass. Even the maligned Lol Tolhurst, who would be understandably forced out three years in the future, plays his synth lines with competence if not active flair. Meanwhile, Robert Smith's vocal work is flawless and in some cases arguably stronger than the studio recordings of certain songs, while his guitar playing demonstrates exactly why his work has been so influential yet constantly underrated. The queasy psychedelia that underpins his work gets a full airing here, with washes of feedback and phase often quite high in the mix. In combination with the band's solid showing, Pope throws in just enough tweaks and surprises to keep watching interesting -- his cameramen capture what they need to do to provide a good overall collage. One big star of the film is the venue itself -- nothing less than an open-air ampitheater from Roman times, refitted to hold modern concerts in comfort. With performance highlights including fantastic versions of "Primary," "A Night Like This," "A Forest," and "Faith," Orange is ample testimony to both the Cure's excellence and Pope's ability to showcase them at their best.

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