The Cult had an amazing three-album run in the 80’s with ‘Love’ (1985), ‘Electric’ (1987) and ‘Sonic Temple’ in 1989. Having celebrated the first two in recent years, it was time to give some love to ‘Sonic Temple’. The Cult wisely decided to cherry pick the best 8 tracks instead of simply playing the entire album, and rearranged the order to better suit the concert experience, as opposed to the album that packs each of its four singles in the first five tracks.
These days, The Cult is Ian Astbury, and Billy Duffy, backed by hired musicians, and the band is really tight. John Tempesta on drums, Damon Fox (from Bigelf) on keyboards and Grant Fitzpatrick on bass stayed out of the spotlight, but layed down a solid foundation for the two stars all evening long.
Astbury (back to his Jim Morrison look) and Duffy can often have a dour attitude on stage, but even early problems with Duffy’s guitar rig couldn’t wipe the smiles off their faces last night. In fact, I’d say I’ve never seen them have so much fun on stage before. From the opening strains of ‘Sun King’ through the powerful ‘Fire Woman’, the band played no-nonsense rock for an audience of faithful.
With half the setlist devoted to ‘Sonic Temple’, it was a given that the rest of the night would be filled with, ahem, Cult classics. ‘Spiritwalker’, ‘The Phoenix’ and ‘She Sells Sanctuary’ concluded the main show on a high note. After a quick break, the band came out for a quick 3-song encore, starting with ‘Rain’, then ‘Wild Flower’, a welcome replacement for ‘Saints are Down’ that is usually played in this spot on this tour. With one song left in a way too short 90-minute set, it wasn’t a surprise they concluded with ‘Love Removal Machine’.
Opening the evening was Montreal’s Red Mass. Their first track sounded like post-rock nonsense, and was timidly welcomed by the crowd, but their set settled in quickly and was pretty interesting. The band’s music definitely tries to avoid typical rock song structures, but is oddly punctuated by 80’s style guitar solos. Still, it was hard not to bob your head along, and the crowd grew increasingly favourable to the band. They’re worth checking out.