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The Cult

The CultRedcoats

Metro City

Saturday, September 28, 2013

It was always going to be an older crowd at this gig; though The Cult have several classic albums under their belt and a number of instantly recognisable hit singles – She Sells Sanctuary, at least, is still a floor filler – they don’t have as much cultural cache as other bands of a similar vintage and genre bent. No, nostalgia was the order of the day, with an army of alternative elders out in force to hear Ian Astbury, Billy Duffy and company bang out their 1987 album, Electric.

Sadly, that meant that Melbourne psychedelic rock and roll outfit Redcoats didn’t get the attention they deserved in the opening slot. The irony is that Redcoats share a lot of the same influences as The Cult, drawing on the darker end of the ‘60s rock diaspora, so anyone with an appreciation for the former should be able to plug into the latter without too many problems. If nothing else, lead singer Emilio Mercuri certainly channels the same lizard-hipped, Mr Mojo Risin’ attitude that informs Astbury’s tradecraft, and the few who actually saw Redcoats certainly dug them.

That performance had to hold us for a while, though, as The Cult didn’t hit the stage for a good 40 minutes after the advertised 9pm start time and the crowd – packed to the rafters now – was more than a bit restless by the time the band finally graced us with their presence, launching right into Wild Flower.

Guitarist Billy Duffy, bassist Chris Wyse and drummer John Tempera, along with touring guitarist and frequent collaborator James Stevenson, were as tight as ever right out of the gate, but it took the whip-thin Astbury, his hair pulled back into a severe ponytail, a few songs to work out the kinks, and it wasn’t until we hit Aphrodisiac Jacket that his voice lost the flat quality that had marred the opening salvo. Once he hit his stride, though, it was all killer.

This deal where a band tours one of their classic albums, playing the whole thing from go to whoa, is quite the thing at the moment, but The Cult apparently decided to treat the notion as a guideline rather than a rule. Most of the songs from Electric got a look-in – their less than stellar cover of Born To Be Wild was wisely excised – including crowd favourite Love Removal Machine, but we also got treated to the likes of Sweet Soul Sister and Embers – the latter the subject of a maudlin and ill-judged dedication by Astbury to Heath Ledger. Inevitably, She Sells Sanctuary got trotted out for the encore, along with Spiritwalker and Sun King, and judging by the crowd reaction, it was the highlight of the night. The Cult came not to prove a point or reinvent the wheel but to deliver a top notch show to an eager crowd, and everyone present left Metro’s more than satisfied.

_ TRAVIS JOHNSON

 

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