When watching The Cure's latest live film, Festival 2005, I couldn't help comparing it to their previous concert releases as well as shows I had attended in person. My first taste of their music was later than most die hard fans, as my introduction was with 1989's Disintegration. After the release of the live album Entreat, and their next true studio album, Wish, I was pretty much hooked. My quest for rarities, bootlegs and live footage couldn't be quenched. Yeah, I was obsessed.
For me, The Cure hit a musical peak (both in the studio and live) during their '92 album Wish. Although I was unable to attend their Dallas date during that tour in person, I did purchase both the Show CD and VHS. Their musicianship and energy floored me, with their best lineup to date. Fast forward to 2006 and the band is still alive and kicking, although only three members from the Wish era happen to be involved.
This takes us to Festival 2005, a live DVD filmed during a string of dates including performances in Spain, Belgium, France, Switzerland, Sicily, Hungary, Germany, Greece and Turkey. Professional cameramen shot some of the footage, as did fans and even the band's own road crew. Covering nearly the entire range of The Cure's catalog, this ends up as less of a concert film and more like a best-of compilation, not that I am complaining.
The film kicks off with an unfortunately drowsy rendition of "Open," with Smith losing a bit of his stage presence and energy. After the crowd pleasing "Fascination Street" and the ignorable "alt.end," things get interesting as they whip out "The Blood," a song that definitely highlighted the mighty return of uber-guitarist Porl Thompson. They followed this with a pretty straightforward rendition of "A Night Like This," but my attention was brought back to the screen with "The Kiss." Songs such as this one makes the DVD worth picking up, as there are several I had never gotten an opportunity to hear live before.
The oldies kept on flowing with impressive renditions of "Shake Dog Shake" and "The Figurehead." Hearing songs from The Top and Pornography is pretty damn cool. Some of the "cinematography" is rather dull, but the music more than makes up for it. Even when "In Between Days" falls a bit flat and looks like it was filmed with a night vision camera, they follow it up with something awesome such as one of my all time favorites, "From The Edge Of The Deep Green Sea." Songs like that make me very, very happy that guitarist Porl Thompson is back in the band, bringing a much-needed edge to their sound.
There are a few more holy shit moments on the DVD, including another old-school classic, "The Drowning Man." Although it is missing some of the bite of the original, it is forgivable as the brilliant album Faith did come out way back in 1981. The somewhat motionless Robert Smith even showed a little sign of life during a rockin' performance of "Shiver And Shake." Longtime fans of The Cure will also be pleased to hear other old gems like "At Night," "M" and "Play For Today." Bassist Simon Gallup seems to still really enjoy performing these Cure classics, and it is a total pleasure to hear them one more time.
As they wrap things up with "Faith," I have to admit that I miss the younger days of the band. Most of the playfulness Smith would occasionally show on stage has faded, but the quality of the songs still stands up. The Cure has written some damn good songs, and it is great to have a good number of them compiled onto one live DVD. Although this release won't earn them any new fans, at this point I don't think that it really matters, as their legions of dedicated followers will definitely eat this up. This will sit nicely next to your copies of In Orange, Play Out, Show and Trilogy.