With a career spanning three decades, The Cult are an integral part of our rich British musical tapestry.
Earlier this year the band released their impressive tenth studio album Hidden City. Over the last thirty plus years, Ian Astbury and co’ have penned many a hit record. It’s been four years since the release of their last album Choice of Weapon and it’s great to see the band back on the road once more.
The show tonight at Newcastle City Hall is the penultimate date on their current UK tour. On arrival at the venue the heaven’s open, almost like a verse out of The Cult songbook “Here comes the rain.” It’s apparent that a lot of the audience have been with the band since the early days, many of whom are sporting their prize tÂshirts from previous tours.
The Cult have been through many lineup changes over the years, but the current incarnation of the band is amassed with talent. Touring members Grant Fitzpatrick (bass) and Damon Fox (keyboards/rhythm guitar) provide the perfect foil to axeman Billy Duffy, Ian Astbury and long-standing drummer John Tempesta.
The band open the show with a triple whammy of “Dark Energy” from their new album Hidden City alongside old favourites “Rain” and “Wild Flower.” The Cult take us through a well-balanced set which is anchored around their latest offering and is interspersed with many a timeless classic. New tracks like “Deeply Ordered Chaos” and the beautiful “Birds of Paradise” sit comfortably alongside familiar numbers like “Sweet Soul Sister” and “Fire Woman” from their seminal album Sonic Temple.
The Geordie faithful seem to approve of The Cult’s new material. Following the bass heavy “Hinterland” a fan shouts out as only the locals know how “Canny song that,” to which Astbury replies “Thanks, man.” He quips “It’s not nostalgia, it’s not entertainment, we are doing right now, keep changing, keep evolving.” Throughout the years, The Cult have done exactly that and with their latest album, their sound has moved on somewhat since the band’s heyday of the late 80’s and early 90’s.
Astbury reminisces of an encounter with local boy Ridley Scott in LA, apparently all Ian wanted to do was to talk about Blade Runner, yet Scott just kept referring to the weather and the buses in Gateshead, much to his amusement.
Following a beautiful piano intro to “Gone”, which really stands out in their set, it’s very apparent that Astbury completely immerses himself in the music. Throughout the show, he’s either meandering around the stage or thrusting his trusty tambourine in the air. A couple of lucky fans even get to take home a treasured memento of the evening, as Ian throws his instrument of choice out into the crowd on a couple of occasions.
The unmistakable opening riff to “She Sells Sanctuary” signals the end of the band’s main set, but they aren’t done yet, returning to the stage they take us back to the start with “Spiritwalker” from their debut album Dreamtime. The night is brought to a close with a euphoric rendition of “Love Removal Machine.”
Thirty-three years in the game and The Cult are still going strong, long may they continue.