The Cult @ Albert Hall, Manchester [REVIEW]
Alejandro De Luna
I’ve never been a fan of The Cult. It’s just not my thing – I am not really into the whole paraphernalia of hard rock and showmanship that is part of a vanished wardrobe of rock clichés from the 80s. But The Cult is not just a commonplace – their goth and post-punk roots along with Ian Astbury and Billy Duffy’s past in the punk scene bring an interesting fusion that maneuvers within the world of familiar rock fixations and an enjoyable performance.
I am into the non-relevant aspects of The Cult as a band. I am particularly interested in Billy Duffy’s past as Johnny Marr’s guitar pal and Morrissey‘s motivator when he pushed him out of his bedroom and invited the Mancunian to join The Nosebleeds to support Magazine in 1978. But let’s go back to the gig.
After Broken Hands warmed up the stage in the packed Albert Hall, The Cult, all-dressed in black, brought a vehement archetype of a dusty hard rock rockola mainly lead by Ian‘s unstoppable stamina and magnetism as a frontman along Duffy‘s guitar work.
Visibly annoyed with the 10pm curfew in the venue (“Manchester’s gentrification is destroying live music”) and constantly praising the city’s rich musical heritage (“Ian Curtis is the Jim Morrison of fuckin’ Great Britain”), Astbury accomplishes the virtues and imperfections of a classic rock frontman – even after more than 30 years hitting the road. He is unpredictable, with a great voice and full of charisma, but limited by the sonic possibilities of the band and his Jim Morrison-esque vocal style. On his left hand side, guitar player Billy Duffy suffers from the same syndrome as he abuses with pedal effects, common guitar solos within the genre and riffs that could be easily taken from AC/DC‘s repertoire (take ‘Wild Flower’ or ‘Lil’ Devil’). Like many guitarists in the genre, on stage he is creatively limited but aggressive and technically unrestricted.
How many tambourines does Ian Astbury needs per gig? 10? 15? To see the man and his mastery with this percussive gear as he moves incessantly is a show in itself. Some of these were given to the crowd who was fighting in the mosh pit; others were smashed by Astbury in between songs; and the rest was simply thrown away to the back of the stage.
I’ll never be a fan of The Cult, but this gig put things into perspective. They are one of the last survivors of an endangered music genre and onstage they are beyond solid and captivating. The Cult is a clear case study between the difference of ‘rock’ and ‘rock ‘n’ roll’. Add an unpredictable frontman, a physical rhythm section and Duffy’s stereotypical guitar work on and you’ll have a wet dream for many people out there.
Dark Energy / Rain / Wild Flower / Horse Nation / Hinterland / Sweet Soul Sister / Lil’ Evil / gone / Honey From a Knife / Birds of Paradise / Deeply Ordered Chaos / Fire Woman / Nirvana / The Phoenix / She Sells Sanctuary // G O A T / Love Removal Machine