Touring with The Cure

So, I just spent a few pre-South America days with The Cure and we filmed everything. Rehearsals and everything. They sounded really great and I think Reeves Gabrels is a really good bonus for the band. Boy, they are playing together tighter than a cat’s arse. It would be foolish of me to release details of the set – anyway, by this time next week we shall be on to our second concert in São Paulo when all shall be revealed. Robert has announced that the set will be a good three and a half hours long, which means that by the time I get back to the UK at the end of April I will have spent well over 24 hours filming the band playing live. And that is not counting the documentary footage that we shall be shooting in addition. My Pope-eyed cameras will have access to everything: backstage, on the coaches, at the late night parties. People are going to get a really great glimpse of what it’s like to hang out with the band and the ways that things come together for them creatively and musically with RS at the helm. Well, most of all, the last time I really got to hang out with the band was 1997 and this is a lovely way for us to all become reacquainted. After all, they are some of my most longstanding “muckers” in the biz and that’s a beautiful thing.

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Yesterday was an absolute bonkers day. Having been promised a fair amount of ‘thong’ on Coplanar beach, I found myself standing there with Jules, my producer, and Flemming, my cameraman, in the pissing down rain. Next it was to the hat shop in downtown Rio to get fitted up for… well, ‘that’ I shall keep a surprise! Let’s just say I expect later today to be sporting something fairly eye catching in the head department. Doubtless, pictures will accompany my hat announcements. (Or are they pronouncements?) Then it was to the favelas of Rio, where we had to pass through a huge police presence to get in and to be honest where everybody seemed genuinely very nice. Perhaps it did help that we were being guided by my friend Alex who lives in Brazil anyway. I loved listening to the noise of TV sets and babies crying and the smells of food being cooked were ‘gnaaaaar’. After a couple more detours it was off to the HSBC arena to see the band sound check and to get acquainted with my lovely Brazilian film crew. Looking forward to tonight – the first of eight of The Cure’s LatAm gigs. Filming loads more stuff today before the concert, up to visit Jesus, then… oh Christ, it’s late… must get going… meantime, I see the first sun is popping out from behind the clouds, as I look out from my hotel window. Note to myself: make sure the hat fits.

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Well, seeing this is my ‘first tour,’ it might as well be with The Cure. I have filmed many concerts in my life – Neil Young, Iggy Pop, David Bowie (a few times), The The, ‘The Cure In Orange’ – but never quite anything like this and certainly never to this scale. I think we are going to have an exciting and amazing and insightful film at the end of it, filled with Cure music. The whole thing is fascinating to me and I am filming every second of it. The Cure themselves are being amazingly generous about allowing access with the cameras. We are capturing very intimate moments: what happens when a band comes off-stage, etc. Where do they go? What do they say? See the film when all this is finished and find out!!!! So far a few personal highlights for me have been… Well, first, the concerts themselves. The band are playing REALLY WELL I think. A mixture of ‘tight’ and still ‘loose enough’ to feel as if the songs were just written. (For me, I have many personal connections with the songs, as I made the videos!) As I am traveling with the band, some of the police escorts have been fun and recorded by me personally for you in 3D!!!! Meeting the fans has been lovely and so many of them have been very warm and welcoming to me in every town – which I did not expect. I have had an awful amount of photos taken with people I don’t know. Possibly my least favorite moment so far was at the Asunción press conference, where I found myself suddenly (and unexpectedly) in the glare of the cameras and lights, when someone asked me what my favorite trees were in Paraguay. Well, the good news was that I had been out filming some trees that day. The band of course enjoyed thoroughly the moment of me being thrust into the spotlight and Robert captured it in 3D with a malevolent grin on his face I noticed later on the film I saw. My coy blushes will probably be very enjoyable in 3D. Anyway, must go… I am off today to film a slightly rainy Buenos Aires. Will be catching up with some more fans later and perhaps chatting with them on camera, etc. See attached the photo of Flemming, my cameraman, filming the press conference… and getting in all the shots of the other cameramen.

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Today Santiago, Chile, tomorrow Lima, Peru. Excellent concert from The Cure last night. The audience loved them. It was very special. You could feel the atmosphere from early on. Me? I spent the evening inside a little caravan at the side of the stage, behind the speakers. The picture shows you what I see during the show. We are five concerts into filming, with another 3 more to go. Been very nice saying hello to the fans and everywhere I go I just hear people shouting “Teem, Teem.” I loved seeing the Andes sneaking over the top of the stadium yesterday. Quite beautiful. A perfectly random update, but, hey.

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OK, so the final push begins and we are on the home straight now with the tour. This time next week we will all be back home. It’s been a fun if not slightly hectic journey. Feels like everything is a bit of a blur to me. It’s been great meeting the fans and talking with them on camera. Quite humbling, actually. I know the band think this, too. We have loads of amazing footage ‘in the can’ – the gigs themselves, talking with people, atmospheric ‘other stuff.’ Some of the stuff at the gigs that my roving cameraman Flemming has shot is quite sublime. There is a shot of a woman at Santiago and she’s standing right near the back of the arena with the band in the far background. So beautiful. People keep saying to me, ‘When will we be seeing all this?’ Really hard to say. All I know is it’s going to take a hell of a time to look through everything and then edit everything together to tell the story of the tour and then to mix the sound, etc. Meantime, yesterday we said goodbye to Lima, Peru, next stop Bogota, Colombia…

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How lovely to be home again and to hear the peaceful sounds of the English countryside after my mad adventure with The Cure in South America. What an adventure it was, though. Amazing concerts; the warmth of the fans; the different towns. Oh, did I mention the police escorts everywhere? My favorite one for sheer freneticism and exuberance was perhaps Asunción, Paraguay. Though Mexico might be a close second. The bikes seemed to dart in between our vans like dragonflies, missing our vehicles by millimeters. Anyway, we lived to tell the tale. Like I say, I thought The Cure were on top form and Robert’s voice just seems to get better and stronger. The part where he sings “again and again” in ‘A Forest’ gets me every time. It’s like a whack to the plate of the chest. I would try and synchronize the movement of my camera crane to fit his vocal, getting it to pull away in a whoosh. Sometimes it worked, sometimes less so. We filmed 8 concerts and it was pretty difficult sometimes because of my lack of Spanish/Portuguese. We caught the essence of the concerts, despite this. They’re all there currently in some digital limbo land, ready and ripe for me to spend quite some time reaping them and manipulating them into a whole. Over a hundred hours of concert footage alone. Can’t wait to get started. And we also shot loads of extra footage: the fans talking about their passion for the music, the 5.9 earthquake in Mexico City, the sound checks and rehearsals, ‘with the band’ on their trips to and from the shows. So far I don’t even dare to think about how much good material we do have. Just what the fans wanted to see, it will be. I do not know at all how long it will take to put together. Watch this space for updates and I do appreciate that people are very interested to see what we shot, but PLEASE BE PATIENT and I can assure you there will be something… eventually.

March/April 2013

© Tim Pope

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