Concert films of The Cure, Numan and Kylie

By Tom Von Malder | Mar 13, 2020
Photo by: Eagle Vision Robert Smith leads The Cure in two concerts on their latest video release.

Owls Head — The Cure: 40 Live – Curaetion-25 + Anniversary (Eagle Vision, 2 Blu-rays, NR, 279 min.). More than four hours of grade A Cure will delight more than just their fans. These two concerts from the summer of 2018, only two weeks apart, present 50 different songs from their 40-year career. Only seven songs are heard in both shows.

The Cure formed in Crawley, West Sussex, England and played their first show in 1978. Over the years, singer-songwriter-guitarist Robert Smith has been the one constant. Of the current band, bass player Simon Gallup joined early on in 1979, while keyboardist Roger O’Donnell was with the band in 1989-90 and then returned for good in 1994. Drummer Jason Cooper came onboard in 1993, while guitarist Reeves Gabrels, known for playing with David Bowie in Tin Machine, joined fulltime in 2012, after working with Smith on projects over some 15 years. The band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame last year.

The indoor concert at London’s Royal Festival Hall was a one-time show on June 24, 2018, the 10th and final night of the 25th Meltdown Festival, which Smith curated. Labeled “From There to Here/From Here to There,” the unique concert had the band play one song from each of its 13 albums in chronological order, starting with the oldest. They then played two new songs, before again playing one song from each album in reverse chronological order.

While the band’s initial music, including its controversial first single, “Killing an Arab” (not performed here), placed it in the post-punk and new wave genres, Smith’s penchant for goth exhibited itself in his dark and tormented style from the second album on. By “Pornography” in 1982, Smith began introducing more pop sounds into his songs, a trend that peaked with “Disintegration” (see below) in 1989.

Highlights of this first concert include “Three Imaginary Boys,” the trippy “A Strange Day,” “A Night Like This,” “Like Cockatoos,” “Pictures of You,” the harder rock of “39,” “It Can Never Be the Same,” “Disintegration,” “Shake Dog Shake,” “Primary,” “A Forest” and “Boys Don’t Cry.” Director Nick Wickham presents four of the songs in black-and-white, with two of those having small touches of red, such as on a guitar. The green lighting and tree backdrop images are particularly effective on “A Forest.”

The second concert, “Anniversary,” wasperformed outdoors at London’s Hyde Park before a massive crowd of 65,000 on July 7, 2018. Tim Pope, who has made many of The Cure’s music videos, directed this film, which was released in theaters globally. The show opens with a quartet of highlights in “Plainsong,” “Pictures of You,” “High” and “A Night Like This.” Later on, there are “Lovesong,” “Inbetween Days,” “Just Like Heaven,” “Fascination Street,” “Disintegration,” “Lullaby,” “Caterpillar” and “Friday I’m in Love,” with the latter two featuring nice colors and lights. The show closes with “Boys Don’t Cry,” “Jumping Someone Else’s Train,” “Grinding Halt,” “10:15 Saturday Night” and the rocking “KAA,” closing a most excellent affair. Pope does turn annoying with too many quick image flips during “The Walk,” and there is too much jumpy camerawork during “Shake Dog Shake,” although the latter is probably intentional.

The concerts also are available as two DVDs, with the same 16-page photo-filled booklet, and as a limited-edition deluxe box with both Blu-rays and DVDs, plus four CDs of music and a 40-page hardcover book. Grade: A+

The Cure: Disintegration expanded (1989, 2010, Fiction/UMC/Polydor, 3 CDs, 71 min.). The first disc of this just reissued 2010 set contains a remastered version of the original, 12-track 1989 album, which was the band’s eighth studio album. It contains The Cure classics “Plainsong,” “Pictures of You,” “Lovesong,” “Lullaby,” “Fascination Street” and the title track. Disc three is an expanded and remixed version of the 1989 live album “Entreat,” now called “Entreat Plus.” The live recordings were from three London shows and initially appeared as single B-sides and the 8-song “Entreat” EP in 1990. This version adds the four missing “Disintegration” songs and all the live tracks have been remixed by band leader Robert Smith.

The middle CD contains three home demo instrumental versions, three band rehearsals tracks, six band demos and two rough studio takes, all recorded in April, June, September and November of 1988. There also are four studio rough guide vocals and one rough mix vocal. The best of these are “Lovesong” and “Lullaby,” plus the non-LP “Out of Mind” (should have made the album) and “Delirious Night” (spacier, with Indian influences). Finally, there is a rough mix of Smith’s solo version of “Pirate Song,” which Judy Collins had a successful cover version of, that was intended for an Elektra Records 40th anniversary album that never materialized. The discs come with a photo-filled, 24-page booklet that also includes the lyrics. Grade: B+

Gary Numan with The Skaparis Orchestra: When the Sky Came Down – Live at the Bridgewater Hall, Manchester (BMG, 2 CDs + DVD, NR, about 120 min.). Numan must be having somewhat of a renaissance, with a couple of recent very well-received albums, “Splinter (Songs from a Broken Mind)” in 2013 and “Savage (Songs from a Broken World)” in 2017, plus two DVD concerts releases, “Savage” and this one. The “Splinter” CD reached the UK Top 10, his first album to do so in 30 years. Numan’s early peak was in 1979 with the hit singles “Are Friends Electric?” and “Cars.”

There is no “Cars” in this 20-song set, although early favorites “Down in the Park” and “Are Friends Electric?” are included. This was the first time Numan performed with an orchestra – long an ambition of his – and the orchestrations were done by orchestra conductor Simon Robertshaw and his team. In general, the blending of the orchestra and Numan’s six-piece band work very well. Obviously, the violins are well suited to most songs, but there also is good use of four male and four female singers, who often do vocalizing.

Highlights include “Everything Comes Down To This,” “Down in the Park” (strings open it), “Broken” with its long instrumental introduction, “My Name Is Ruin,” the lively strings opening of “My Breathing” and “Are Friends Electric?” Numan plays guitar on the second half of the encore “A Prayer For the Children,” and the very last song, “It Will End Here,” was newly written and thus had no arrangement for the orchestra, which was nonetheless very energetic, standing and waving arms behind Numan’s band. The set comes with an 8-page booklet. Grade: A-

Kylie (Kylie Minogue): Golden Live in Concert (BNG, 2 CDs + DVD, NR, 117 min.). “Golden” was Minogue’s 14th studio album, released in April 2018. It was the first album since 1997’s “Impossible Princess” in which she co-wrote all the songs. Much of the album was recorded in Nashville, giving many of the songs a country vibe, which is further highlighted in concert by the country clothes worn by her backing dancers. Six of the album’s 10 songs are performed in this very entertaining show, which was recorded in September and October 2018 at various venues in the United Kingdom.

The show opens with a Western stage theme and Minogue rises from below. The country-and-western-dressed male dancers help her perform “Golden.” For the bright pop of “Get Outta My Way,” the dancers push suitcases around. A cover of “Blue Velvet” is played as a video set in a bar, until the very end, when Minogue arrives in a changed outfit. Later on, the dancers have a pool room set, which leads into “In Your Eyes.”

One section revolves around images of a car, a 1968 Shelby, subject of the song “Shelby ’68.” (Note that Carroll Shelby, designer of that car, had his life the subject of the recent film “Ford v Ferrari.”) Apparently, the Shelby ’68 was a car Minogue’s father owned. A cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “The Chain” ends the car-themed portion of the show. Then, it is on to a leather and motorcycle theme, with a rocking version of Robbie Williams’ “Kids.” Other highlights are the slightly country “Stop Me From Falling,” the poppy “Wouldn’t Change a Thing,” the crowd-singing “Especially For You” and “Lost Without You,” with its strong chorus.

Near the end, the concert shifts to a Studio 54 themed set for the danceable “New York City,” “Raining Glitter,” “On a Night Like This” and a disco version of “The Loco-Motion,” with the latter featuring a lot of fun with the dancers. The show ends with the encores of “Love at First Sight” and the confetti-filled “Dancing.” An extra (6:04) has Minogue discussing life on tour, the musicians, dancers and backing vocalists. There also is a 12-page booklet. Grade: A

Kenny Rogers: The Gambler’s Last Deal (Wienerworld, CD, 57 min., + DVD, NR, 84 min.). Filmed in 2017 at the London Palladium at the end of Rogers’ final world tour, this package finds the singer’s voice often just a whisper of what it once was, but is very worthwhile because the concert also serves as a guided history of his career. At times, brief segments from other UK stops are combined with the live Palladium show.

There are 20 songs and one 3-song medley. Rogers is helped by singer Linda Davis on four songs and she basically solos on two others, with one of the latter among the two tracks that appear on the DVD but not the CD. Davis sings the Sheena Easton part on “We’ve Got Tonight.” The show also uses a music video of Dottie West singing “Every Time Two Fools Collide,” with Rogers singing his part of the duet live. There also is a video of Alison Krauss and Dolly Parton singing Rogers’ “Sweet Music Man.”

Very little time, or even mention, is made of Rogers time with The New Christie Minstrels, but the beginning of the show touches on his single released when he was a high school student and his days as part of the Bobby Doyle Three, which leads to his singing “Walking My Baby.” A good bit of time is spent on the New Edition, which had the hits “Something’s Burning” and “Just Dropped In,” both of which are performed live. After “Just Dropped In,” Rogers recites the lyrics of the second verse, saying probably no one in the crowd could understand how good they were. “But You Know I Love You” (DVD only; sung with Davis) and “Tell It All Brother,” first sung at Kent State he said, wrap up the First Edition portion.

Then it is on to Rogers’ remarkable solo career, starting with “Lucille,” on which the audiences sing the chorus loudly. The ballad medley includes “Through the Years,” “You Decorated My Life” and “She Believes in Me.” Fight scenes from films for the backdrop for “Coward of the Country” and “Six Pack,” two of the seven films Rogers has starred in.

Interspersed between songs are recorded video comments by Rogers’ producers and songwriters, including Don Schlitz, who wrote “The Gambler,” and Lionel Richie, who wrote “Lady.” Both songs are nicely done. During “Islands in the Storm,” instead of Parton, there is Rogers throwing tambourines into the crowds. Images of Rogers with fellow musicians and famous people are screened during “You Can’t Make Old Friends,” before the show ends with a brief “Blaze of Glory.”

Extras include the music video “Buy Me a Rose” (3:43); Rogers working out “Someone Somewhere Tonight” with the band during a 2005 backstage rehearsal (7:28); and a look and the band and crew (9:06). Grade: B

Various: The Jimi Hendrix Tribute Concert – Live at Rockpalast 1991 (MiG, 2 CDs + DVD, NR, 126 min.). This 26-track concert, put together by guitarist Uli Jon Roth of Scorpions, was filmed April 25, 1991 in Germany.

The first four songs are performed by the Randy Hansen Band, a well-known Hendrix tribute band from Seattle, led by guitarist Hansen. They perform “Hey Joe,” “Stone Free,” “I Don’t Live Today” and “Steppin’ Stone,” before turning the show over to the all-star band. Michael Flexig, a German singer who has sung with Roth, performs “Gypsy Eyes,” obviously reading the lyrics at times.

Things come back to life with bassist-vocalist Jack Bruce (Cream, and West, Bruce & Laing) performing “Spanish Castle Magic,” “One Rainy Wish” and “The Wind Cries Mary.” Drummer on the first and third is Simon Phillips (The Who, Michael Schenker and he joined Toto the next year, staying until 2014). Next to the microphone is John Wetton (King Crimson, Asia) to sing “Burning of the Midnight Lamp” and a terrific “All Along the Watchtower, with Peter Bursch of German band Broselmaschine) on acoustic guitar, Phillips on drums and Roth outstanding on guitar. Roth is very good throughout the show, with a fine solo on “Little Wing” and wonderful playing on “Castle Made of Sand” (sung by Russian-born, German star Jule Neigel for a female touch).

Hansen returns to take lead on a sparkling “Voodoo Child,” which has him going into the audience and playing the guitar with his teeth, and Hansen and Roth share lead guitar on “Third Stone From the Sun” and “Crosstown Traffic.” Bruce does a bass solo on “In From the Storm” and stays out to also play on “Who Knows.” Phillips gets to do a brief drum solo at the end of “Message of Love.” Everyone comes out for the final three songs, with Bruce and Wetton sharing lead vocals on “Angel.” There is a 12-page booklet. Grade: B+

Comments (0)
If you wish to comment, please login.