The Cure: Anniversary 1978-2018 Live in Hyde Park London review – communal celebration

Robert Smith revives all the old goth bangers with muscular, life-affirming brio in Tim Pope’s sedate concert film

The Crawley institution are in understandably fine fettle for this concert celebrating the anniversary of their first ever gig, under the name Easy Cure, in the West Sussex town’s Rocket pub in July 1978. Dwarfed by the boughs of two giant trees framing the Hyde Park stage, Robert Smith and the current lineup shake every goth banger out of their back catalogue for the occasion; 29 songs that are chapter and verse on disquiet, loneliness and yearning, but played here with muscular, life-affirming, almost Springsteen-esque brio. Smith can’t stop beaming.

But this concert film – directed by longtime Cure collaborator Tim Pope, who also shot The Cure in Orange, much prized back in the day on VHS – settles for being merely adequate. Far from the ripe theatricality of his early-80s promo work with the band, it adheres firmly to the gig-for-TV handbook that has become as visually codified as Wimbledon coverage. Other than the odd prismatic filter and an outbreak of juddery camerawork for Shake Dog Shake, it’s the standard sedate carousel through fretboard closeups, wide shot of the band, serene crowd pans.

It’s left to the Hyde Park VJs to supply most of the eye candy on the monumental backing screens. Sundown enhances the spectacle. In plain daylight, the band increasingly resemble a pack of flyblown hedgerow-dwellers who have emerged by accident; under cover of night, the shadows gather, and Smith can fully manifest as ambassador of the eldritch realm. Given the communal celebration, though, it’s a pity Pope doesn’t turn the cameras on the crowd more often. His film is a decent enough keepsake, but Cure acolytes will surely be already waiting for the scrapbook-style documentary he reportedly has in the works with the singer.

Contributor

Phil Hoad

The GuardianTramp

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