I saw The Cure: In Orange as a young teen with VHS access. Perhaps every Cure fan did. The video was always easy to spot at mall stores and video rental shops. In Orange. I didn’t know the difference between “orange,” the fruit/color, and “Or-ange,” the place in France, until the cassette made its way into my parents’ VCR. Sometimes I think I learned more from music than from classes. Regardless, I saw the video a bunch of times, either because a friend had it or I rented it, but the last viewing session was well before the advent of DVD players. To this day, In Orange has not been released in that format. Last night, though, I got to see the famed Cure concert film on the big screen, as a 35 mm print, at Cinefamily. On top of that, I got to DJ before the screening.
This was the first of two screenings at Cinefamily this weekend. (The second one is tonight.) Friday night’s screening sold out with good reason. Cinefamily did a great job of explaining why In Orange is important. I tried to expand on that while talking to my husband and a friend of ours. “It’s the definitive Cure film,” I said. In Orange isn’t like Depeche Mode: 101. There’s no narrative. It’s just the band playing a bunch of songs in an ancient venue. Still, you get a good sense of who they are and who they are going to be. The concert took place in 1986, a year or so before “Just Like Heaven.” They were big, but they were about to get bigger. On stage, you have the classic line-up– Robert, Simon, Porl, Lol, Boris– that would start to fall apart a few years later during the course of making Disintegration. It’s not the original line-up, but it’s the one responsible for a lot of the biggest hits.
I’ve seen The Cure four times, but watching an old film of the band playing gives a different insight. I saw the band play at massive venues, The Rose Bowl, amidst tens of thousands of screaming fans, was one. When you’re there, the activity is so intense that sometimes it’s hard to absorb the nuances of the performance. Plus, even the good seats are a pinch too far removed to see everything. Watching a concert film like In Orange, you get can see the things you will never see when you’re rows deep into a stadium. If you’ve seen The Cure live, you know that Smith doesn’t move much. Up close, on camera, you can see how his face doesn’t move much either. He doesn’t pull any sort of rock star contortions. His mouth moves only to sing and his eyes shift into occasional sidelong glances. On the few occasions where he did smile, it looked forced and kind of goofy. Some in the crowd giggled. In the “pop song” moments, when Smith does try to dance, it’s clumsy and awkward, but also endearing.
The screening was the opposite of any live show in L.A. Our town has a reputation, occasionally a bad one, for talking during shows and being generally rowdy. Here, the crowd was silent during the songs. In between numbers, they clapped, as though we really were at a concert. There was an occasional shout of approval during some of the choicest numbers from a show that happened decades ago.
Thanks to my friend Bret Berg at Cinefamily, I got to play some tunes before the start of the screening. For this set, I wanted it to be heavy on The Cure, but not entirely Cure-centric. I also didn’t want my DJ set to overlap with the the music in the film, a bit of a challenge when you haven’t seen the movie in at least 15 years. Check out the set list below.
Siouxsie and the Banshees– Happy House
The Cure– Bananafishbones
Front 242– Don’t Crash
Cold Cave– Icons of Summer
The Cure– Fascination Street
Xmal Deutschland– Mondlicht
The Cure– Like Cockatoos
If you liked the set, stop by the Grand Star in Chinatown tonight for Shadowplay, where I’m playing.