Reviewed onFriday November 25 (photo by Ashley Mar)
I still remember the summer of ’89, sitting in my short shorts in front of the TV and grooving on the bad boy vibes as the ‘Fire Woman’ video from The Cult’s arena-troubling Sonic Temple LP blazed neon and leather across the screen. “Twisting like a cat on a hot tin shack!” I yelled gleefully as I practised jumping off the couch and landing on my knees. At that moment, my mother tilted her head and paused her vacuuming to remark on how nice Ian Astbury’s hair was. Buzz killed.
Nearly 30 years later, that moment strikes me as I wander into the Enmore Theatre to catch The Cult’s latest jaunt on their Hidden City tour. No strangers to these shores, this is the band’s third visit in recent years and yet the venue is still packed. I guess you’ll never go bankrupt when appealing to the electricity god.
Although somewhat less leonine than in the glory days, Astbury is no less the archetypal frontman, all dishevelled grace and tambourine-bruised hip. Ten minutes in and my face is sore ’cause I’ve just been hit in the chops with an opening salvo of ‘Wildflower’ and ‘Rain’. It’s a perfectly chosen beginning and the air is thick with an excitement that crackles. This is fucking fun. The Cult are dumb rock par excellence, Guns N’ Roses by way of Jim Morrison – big guitars and bogus spirituality, snake-hipped and wildly intoxicating.
Billy Duffy’s guitar sound is huge, transforming the paisley-hued jingle jangle of ‘She Sells Sanctuary’ into a roaring wail and chunk. And it works. John Tempesta’s drums are a boot-stamp blueprint as ‘Fire Woman’, ‘Sweet Soul Sister’ and ‘Li’l Devil’ possess everyone’s legs and the Enmore bops wildly.
There are a few missteps – clunky ballad ‘Birds Of Paradise’ shoots for the profound but falls flat with wings clipped, and an undignified rant over a recent bad review reveals a strangely thin-skinned streak, but other recent cuts ‘Hinterland’ and ‘Deeply Ordered Chaos’ fare better, proving The Cult still have something potent in the tank that prevents them from being a strictly nostalgic act.
The lights come up briefly, but we know they’ll be back with ‘Love Removal Machine’ in their back pocket. Salt shaker! Soul stealer! It’s rock’n’roll. Pump your fists. The Cult hit hard on summer nights.