Eagle Vision presents
The Cure: Trilogy (2003)
"It's easier for me to get closer to heaven than ever feel whole again."- Robert Smith, from Disintegration
Stars: Robert Smith, Simon Gallup, Perry Bamonte, Roger O'Donnell, Jason Cooper
Director: Nick Wickham
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (mature themes)
Run Time: 03h:16m:29s
Release Date: 2003-06-03
DVD ReviewTry as he might, The Cure founder and front man Robert Smith just cannot escape his dark side. While he has won over many listeners with his light and bubbly pop rock dance hits, Smith's true fascination lies within the dreary and desolate side of rock music. Based on his attraction towards misery, it seemed only logical that on November 11 and 12, 2002 at the Tempodrom in Berlin, Smith and his band members would perform Trilogy, a nearly three and a half hour concert of despondency. Performing, in their entirety, the three darkest albums from the impressive Cure repertoire—Pornography (1982), Disintegration (1989), and Bloodflowers (2000), the show was a diehard Cure fan's dream, but a casual fan's nightmare. Gone were the pop classics such as Let's Go To Bed, Just Like Heaven, and Friday I'm In Love that were mostly responsible for the band's elevation to super stardom. I can assert, however, that the omission of this material was not necessarily a bad thing. As I engrossed myself within this brooding concert, I was once again reminded that the essence of The Cure lies in their most mournful material.
The gloom and despair begins with a bang as the band launches into a blistering rendition of One Hundred Years from the Pornography album. I have always felt that the studio versions of the songs on Pornography are angst-ridden masterpieces, but this live performance injects them with new life. Though the execution of these songs is fairly straightforward, the signature Cure tones and themes are highly evident. This is an excellent performance of a pivotal Cure album and an admirable way to kick off a concert of downcast music.
Pornography is followed by the more ambitious Disintegration set. While all of the songs are performed impeccably, this portion of the show is not quite perfect. The sound is a touch noisier than Pornography, making it slightly difficult to discern between all of the many varying textured melodies. Smith performs much of Disintegration on a six-string bass guitar, and while the instrument adds an interesting sound to the mix, the tone is slightly awkward and twangy. Nevertheless, these are the only minor gripes I have with an otherwise riveting performance. While far from an upbeat affair, Disintegration is the "lightest" set of the three, containing several almost cheerful numbers including Pictures of You and Lovesong, the latter being the closest thing to a pop-friendly hit we get all night. The band is clearly in top form and having great fun during Disintegration.
Though Disintegration is still my preferred album of the three, Bloodflowers is truly the highlight of Trilogy. While Pornography is a cacophony of demented chaos, and Disintegration is more like a subdued nightmare, Bloodflowers is a perfect blend of these two elements. The album is a masterwork of melancholy, a carefully crafted mix of the best aspects of nearly every Cure album. The sound is at its best here, with a beautiful simultaneous blend and separation between all of the instruments. During Bloodflowers, Smith uses a different six-string bass than the one he used for Disintegration, and the tone is much more vibrant and pure. By the end of this hour-long set, I almost jumped to my feet and began clapping and screaming until I remembered that I was sitting alone in my living room. This is a brilliantly performed piece that is nearly flawless on all levels.
As if three albums worth of songs were not enough, the band also return once more to perform a two-song encore. After performing three hours of sorrowful music, one might expect Smith and company to lighten the mood a bit, but instead, they continue the theme of the night by performing two of the darkest songs from Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me. While the first encore, If Only Tonight We Could Sleep, is like a hypnotic trance washing over the audience, the closing number, The Kiss, is an incredible burst of chaos and energy, with Robert Smith's "wah" guitar exploding into a fit of intensity. This is a dazzling end to a magnificent evening.
Trilogy was an elaborate and surely exhausting undertaking from The Cure, and this DVD has captured the sights and sounds of these shows superbly. Utilizing over 12 cameras, the video simultaneously conveys what it is like to be in the audience as well as on stage with the band. At times, the editing proves a bit frantic, but most often this device is perfectly suitable for the pacing and style of the music. The Cure has never been a particularly animated band on stage, but through the interesting camera effects and varying lighting techniques, the concert is never visually dull. While their songs may seem somewhat basic or even monotonous on the surface, a closer listen will reveal that these are skilled entertainers performing carefully calculated music with great expertise. Robert Smith's lyrics may be as depressing as anything ever written, yet there is no denying that they are the creation of a poetically mad genius. When I absorbed myself within the gloomy undertones of the music presented in Trilogy, I was truly amazed to experience how something so dreary can be so mesmerizing.
One Hundred Years
A Short Term Effect
The Hanging Garden
A Strange Day
Pictures of You
Prayers For Rain
The Same Deep Water As You
Out of This World
Watching Me Fall
Where The Birds Always Sing
The Last Day of Summer
There Is No If...
The Loudest Sound
If Only Tonight We Could Sleep
Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: A+
|Aspect Ratio||1.78:1 - Widescreen|
|Original Aspect Ratio||yes|
Image Transfer Review: The high-definition video-based image transfer is quite a wonder to behold. Unlike many other high definition video based concerts I have seen, Trilogy is consistently smooth and nearly void of distracting video deficiencies. The overall aesthetic of the image varies at times, mostly appearing film-like, though occasionally conveying more of a sterile video-based appearance. Nevertheless, the picture is predominately clean and distortion free, boasting colors that nearly leap off the screen with a three-dimensional quality. Aside from negligible video noise and sporadic edge enhancement, this is a stunning transfer that rates amongst the finest concert DVDs I have seen thus far.
Image Transfer Grade: A-
Audio Transfer Review: The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is outstanding, proving to be neither elaborate nor understated. The overall fidelity is exceptionally clean even at deafening volume levels. The music expands widely across the front soundstage, with every nuance of each instrument easily perceptible. Robert Smith's vocals blend throughout the front three channels, with the center channel consisting almost entirely of his voice. I would have preferred that his vocals remain exclusively in the center channel, but I will acknowledge that his voice comes across with a bold and dynamic presence. Primarily, this mix avoids flashy gimmicks and keeps the music locked at the front, save for a few moments of surround presence. Otherwise, the rear speakers are reserved entirely for audience noise. This mixing method creates a fully enveloping yet realistic recreation of a live concert environment. Rounding out the sonic satisfaction from this exciting track is the incredibly deep and powerful low end, particularly from the assaulting kick drum. Not as good as seeing the band live, but a heck of a lot cheaper, this soundtrack will turn anyone's home theater room into a thrilling concert hall.
Also offered is an uncompressed PCM track, which is quite impressive as well. While I found the 5.1 track to better convey the atmosphere of a live concert, audiophiles might wish to take advantage of the slightly better resolution on the PCM mix.
Audio Transfer Grade: A-
Disc ExtrasFull Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 33 cues and remote access
Music/Song Access with 31 cues and remote access
Layers Switch: 01h:00m:02s & 01h:00m:25s
- Hidden Features
The only other inclusions are three easter eggs. Why a DVD that is already so light on special features would hide these options is beyond me, but fortunately they are not terribly difficult to discover. On Disc One is a split screen look from a hand held camera shot from behind Robert Smith as he steps on stage for the Disintegration set. Also on this disc is a look at the fixed view from Robert's microphone camera during The Same Deep Water As You. This is interesting to watch for all of about 30 seconds. The easter egg on Disc Two merely consists of outtakes from the interview session.
Extras Grade: C+
Final CommentsBased on my disappointment with many recent concert DVDs, I approached Trilogy with certain apprehension. I am pleased to state that all of my high expectations were met or exceeded. It may disturb casual Cure fans to observe the dark side of this typically eclectic group, but Trilogy is proof that dark and dreary is truly what The Cure does best. Even skeptics who once scoffed at the band as nothing but an overrated pop sensation may find themselves Cure fanatics after witnessing this mournful rock masterpiece.
Brian Calhoun 2003-06-18