Die hard fans of The Cure: your wish has come true. In another stroke of genius, Robert Smith has come up with yet another masterwork of epic proportions, this time coming in the form of a two DVD set, entitled Trilogy. The title comes from the gathering of The Cure’s three most emotional and dark albums, 1982’s Pornography, 1989’s Disintegration, and from 2000; Bloodflowers; what makes this two DVD set so special is that all three albums were played in one concert (they actually played the same three albums, two nights in a row, taking sets from both nights to make this DVD set), making for a historical look back at one of post punk’s most prolific and influential bands.
This double DVD, released by Eagle Vision, comes in a lovely, high gloss cover, featuring a larger-than-life Robert Smith singing in the microphone, as he holds an enormous electric guitar with lots of knobs on it. Inside of the main DVD sleeve is a little gatefold section, with a few pictures of the stage, with each disc being held snugly in very high quality container.
The discs themselves house many hours of pure pleasure for Cure fans. Following the completion of the three sets of music, the band comes back for a perfect encore of “If Only Tonight We Could Sleep,” and “The Kiss”; both songs are performed superbly, and the version of “The Kiss” here is by far the best live version I’ve heard of this song in some 14 + years of bootleg collecting. As if the encore weren’t enough, fans are also treated to a rather personal and revealing interview of the band, on all manner of topics; the highlight of the interviews is probably Robert and Simon Gallup discussing how messed up and emotionally charged the “Fourteen Explicit Moments” tour of 1982 was, and the fact that The Cure almost finished forever that year.
The real magic of Trilogy is the music itself. To see The Cure play the entirety of Pornography live, in 2002 (the show was filmed last November, in Berlin, Germany), is absolute bliss. Pornography will stand forever as one of the most angry, bitter, and painful records of all time, and it’s good to see that the songs have lost absolutely nothing after 20 long years. The opening song, “One Hundred Years,” appears on the album with a pounding drum machine beat, but the band opts for human drums here (during the festival shows of 1997, the band used the drum machine on this song, and I was so thoroughly moved, I actually cried); other than that, the rest of the Pornography set stays pretty true to the record. Some bonuses that we fans should be thankful for include the fact that Simon’s bass is absolutely, crushingly overdriven, making for a very aggressive sound through this entire set of songs. Also, drummer Jason Cooper keeps the beats simple, not trying to show up poor Lol Tolhurst, the original Cure drummer whose drumming skills which appear on the actual album.
The stage set for the Pornography songs is very basic, with the primary colors being red and black. The stage is very large, with plenty of room for bassist Simon Gallup to prance around, and very few ornaments decorate the set, in typical Cure fashion. The cameras used to shoot this film seem to number in the millions, as the variation of camera angles is baffling.
The highlights of the Pornography set include a slower, plodding version of “A Short Term Effect,” a song The Cure hasn’t played live since 1982. Robert gets really into it, and his painful grimace is in full effect. A nice touch, too, was the use of the slowing echo on the end of each verse line. I must admit, I had goose bumps during the entire time that I watched “Siamese Twins,” probably my all-time favorite Cure song. Robert and company could not have done a better job with this song, even if they were all still in their early 20’s. The final song in the set, “Pornography,” is truly awesome! It starts with the tape of the talk show host being run backwards, as the creepy, four note horror film tune on the synthesizer chimes in, only to be trampled by the slowly building tribal drums of young Jason Cooper. The song takes on a life of its own, becoming a distorted ball of aggression, ending with Robert’s famous last words, “I must fight this sickness, find a cure.” As the remnants of feedback, distortion, and tape loops wind down, Robert says to the crowd “See you in seven years.”
The Disintegration songs will hold special credence to just about anyone really into “alternative” (or “progressive,” as it was called when this album was released) music. In a word, the Disintegration set is breathtaking. From the opening chimes of “Plainsong,” to the creepy melodies of “Lullabye,” from the gritty and grainy guitars of “Fascination Street,” to the gorgeous pianos of “Homesick,” the songs in this set represent a monumental accomplishment of incredibly unique music.
Much like the Pornography set, the music differs little from the album here. Robert usually plays improvised guitar parts on many of the Disintegration songs live, but leaves them out this time around, in favor of the au natural guitar parts found on the album, making for a very unique performance of older favorites like “Pictures of You.” Some of the longer, more mundane songs, such as “Same Deep Water as You,” “Untitled,” and “Closedown” require a pretty strong attention span to sit through, so I’m guessing that more novice fans will skip to the rockers like “Disintegration” and “Last Dance.”
In terms of mood, though, the set of Disintegration songs really take the cake. It’s evident on all of the band members’ faces that these songs are truly important and meaningful to them (as Roger, Simon, and Robert were all “in” the band when Disintegration was written, and current guitarist Perry Bamonte was a roadie on “The Prayer Tour,” which supported the album in 1989-90); these are the songs which changed their lives, making The Cure a tremendous hit in the States, and essentially put them on the map. The somber yet exuberant tone in each song is undeniable, and the crowd is at their most spastic and happy through this set.
I’m guessing that many people who became fans of The Cure during the late 1980s and early 1990s might have written the band off after the release of 1996s confused Wild Mood Swings album, therefore possibly skipping Bloodflowers when it was released in early 2000. While this is understandable, it is somewhat disheartening, as the Bloodflowers songs are the best, overall, since Disintegration. They are honest, focused, downtrodden, heartfelt, and lack any of the silliness that The Cure became known for with songs like “Friday I’m in Love,” “Mint Car,” and “The 13th.” The performance of these songs on this two-disc set is both inspiring and fascinating.
This performance of the song “Bloodflowers” is probably the single best live song by The Cure that I have ever witnessed on video. Robert seems to bleed emotion through every sweaty pore on his body, as the crowd reacts jubilantly to his chants of “Never fade, never die, she gives me flowers of blood;” I get chills just thinking about how sweet the performance of this song is! The pounding bass drum in the intro screams “early Cure,” as does the ominous guitar melody around which the song is built. Robert and Perry harmonize their guitars following the completion of the second chorus, and the sound is completely beautiful and is 100% classic Cure.
The rest of the set is quite good, with highlights being the dreamy guitars of “Out of This World,” the plodding, distorted destruction of “Watching Me Fall,” and the manic vocals on “39.” The songs are performed perfectly, with all of the weird blips and bleeps from the album being provided live, courtesy of Roger’s keyboard mastery.
While the Bloodflowers album is a masterwork, it holds up only fairly well against the other two albums’ set of songs; this isn’t to say that the songs on Bloodflowers are weak; it’s just that the Robert Smith who made Pornography was manic, drugged, and depressed. The Robert that wrote Disintegration was approaching the end of youth (the age of 30), was about to get married, and was counter-reacting to the enormous success of 1987’s Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me. The Robert Smith who created Bloodflowers is a musical genius looking back on his life, thus the songs on Bloodflowers are more longing than anything else.
Nevertheless, the three albums do comprise a perfect “trilogy,” showing the world what it’s like to disintegrate in the eye of the public, through modern rock music. This two DVD set is an absolute gem for Cure fans, and those of you on the fence about buying it, teeter no longer. If the price is under $30.00, it’s completely worth your money (be thankful that it’s an American domestic release, as many artists [like Bjork] aren’t releasing some of their DVDs in the U.S.). Kids who are into wearing black and listening to “goth” bands like Coal Chamber and AFI, you’ll love this set, too. See where your heroes got all of their ideas firsthand through Trilogy.
The Cure is currently getting ready to make a record with Ross Robinson, of Korn production fame. Even if they make the worst record in the history of the world, I will still love them; the reasons are numerous, but Trilogy is just another in the incredible feats accomplished by one of rock music’s most underrated and overlooked pioneers, Robert Smith.