The Cult – Bristol Colston Hall
When The Cult released the monumental Love in 1985, with the slew of hit singles including “that song”, even they would never in their wildest dreams have thought that over 30 years on packed venues would still be going nuts for them. At a sold out Colston Hall Ian Astbury, Billy Duffy and co delivered a masterclass with a quite fantastic performance. I don’t follow the charts but a quick google suggested that their latest release, the superb Hidden City had not caused as much as a ripple. In fact, you’d be hard pressed to know that it had even been released. Not so inside the lovely Colston Hall, where a decent percentage of the audience had clearly picked up their copy and learnt most of the words. Kicking off with Dark Energy, the band ripped into from the start, with Astbury a whirling insane Jim Morrison infused bundle of crazed energy. Alongside Astbury, the ever reliable and magnificent guitar playing Billy Duffy churned out the riffs and peeled off solos for fun.
A huge roar of approval followed as the first track from Love arrived, the fantastic Rain which saw most of the balcony up on its feet early doors. As Duffy hit the riff on his ever reliable Gretsch Falcon guitars, the temperature increased with the whole crowd singing the chorus. Wild Flower maintained the momentum, the first of three tracks from Electric. Astbury rambled away in between songs, chiding the security and encouraging the younger members in the mosh pit to get involved. I didn’t see too many of the younger generation in the balcony mind, with the average age appearing to be similar to that of Astbury and Duffy, astonishingly both 54 years old. This wasn’t just a walk down memory lane though, with five tracks from the new release weaving their way into the set list. Hinterland, Birds Of Paradise and Deeply Ordered Chaos all slotted in with great ease.
However, the oldies naturally received the biggest response, Sweet Soul Sister generating one of the biggest cheers of the evening. Duffy is a fantastic guitarist, criminally underrated and looking incredibly fit and healthy. Lil’ Devil allowed him to really open up and it was around this point that we twigged that alongside long term drummer John Tempesta and recent addition on bass Grant Fitzpatrick was one Damon Fox on keyboards and rhythm guitar. Who? Well, Damon Fox is the lead player in Big Elf, that’s who. After a storming Nirvana came the moment I had been waiting for; as Duffy cranked out the killer riff to The Phoenix, up I shot, joining in with the rest of those whose dancing days are long behind them but hell did I give a shit? Oh no, The Phoenix is a phenomenal tune and watching Duffy slice that guitar through the air was worth the admission price on its own. Of course, the song that The Cult are most famous for finally arrived with the whole place going nuts as She Sells Sanctuary blasted out. Memories of this track clearing the dancefloor in my youth at the school disco and early forays into night clubs came flooding back. A quick respite before the three track encore pulverised the remains of the crowd. G.O.A.T. was followed by Spirit Walker and then it was last moments as Astbury encouraged and Duffy hit the chords for closer Love Removal Machine.
For a band that have been around close to 35 years, The Cult are just incredible and remain as vital and vibrant today as they did when She Sells Sanctuary crashed into the charts all those years ago. If you get the chance and can tolerate the most insane jibberish of Astbury, then you won’t be disappointed. 9/10