Powerhouse riffs surge through electric show.

The Cult and TC WPThe last time The Cult toured the Electric album in Australia the band was falling apart, in debt and about to cancel a profit-making tour to Japan. The lead protagonists relationship in tatters: Ian Astbury, a singer losing touch with his idealism creating friction with the pragmatic clarity of guitarist Billy Duffy.

As the two drifted further apart, bassist and rhythm guitarist, Jamie Stewart, pondered his next move. Few people would have guessed the unbridled rock monolith success of Sonic Temple, which, in turn, enabled the turbulent ride to continue. The Cult have been back to Australia, and have produced a continuous line of boundary pushing records of what you thought they were.

So after 26 years, why wholly revisit the scene of a very bitter and unpleasant crime?

According to Astbury, “… performing the ‘Electric’ album, an event that has been demanded by our fans and followers as the perfect live set to play in 2013.” And thus, the re-telling began…

Swirling music and a recorded spoken voice brought the sell out crowd to focus in the Eaton Hills Hotel’s Grand Ballroom. Many knew what to expect. Or thought they did.

Wildflower shot into bloom immediately with its naggingly familiar riff. It is distilled rock ‘n’ roll, generations have nodded their head to it and many more will use its textbook notes to start their own rock ‘n’ roll myths.

The purity of the Electric album was crystallised by Rick Rubin’s production, the stripped down nature of the beast relieved the band from the dense claustrophobia of Peace. It actually set Billy free. The guitar elements centre on extracting the most out of six strings and working the craftsman harder.

1383960_10151648219462666_483368864_nA pounding Peace Dog, whose lyrics are mirrored in the B52 cover image of the abandoned Peace LP, gives John Tempesta the chance to show off fills and rolls amongst the deep sounding drums which hold down The Cult’s bottom end. This freed up Chris Wyse on bass to act as another guitar, with a comprehensive rock performance including considerable backing vocal duties.

Yet, on record, Electric can feel rather one paced and flabby around the middle, despite the groove of L’il Devil and the ludicrous Aphrodisiac Jacket. But tonight The Cult address this and smoothly shift through the gears of Bad Fun and King Contrary Man, playing increasingly intense and manic solos. The show then hurtles into the wanton rock ‘n’ roll of Love Removal Machine. It’s an incendiary climax where Billy luxuriates in the flames licking around his guitar. Can we have a fire extinguisher for Mr Duffy please?

Having been used to working with a number of effects peddles, the naked nature of Billy’s guitar playing highlights the pressure he was put under by Rubin and how well he came out the other side, thus highlighting what an accomplished guitar player the young Billy Duffy was. Playing tonight with such involvement he mouths the notes he’s twisting out of his strings, giving weight to Billy as a true guitar hero who can enjoy himself and indulge in a windmilling arm and stadium showmanship.

1383993_10151648218147666_96168555_nAstbury cut an agitated figure at the mic, but with his ever present sunglasses and Rimbaud emblazoned, fur collared jacket he did occasionally prowl the stage, with a constant shake of his tambourine. As the Electric set closed, the swagger and mic lead cracking front man returned, the snake back in his hips.

The brooding Embers is a platform for The Cult’s musical subtleties, including Astbury’s ranging, strident baritone, as the band showcased a selection of their very best work. A propulsive Rain, from a well-represented Love, was followed by Honey From A Knife, the raucous opening shout along from the recent Choice of Weapon long player.

Effects pedals were employed again as the psychedelic Phoenix chimed through the auditorium before giving way to a show stopping She Sells Sanctuary, often cited as their most famous song it was met with no more vigour than any other heard tonight. The Cult, reunited with touring guitarist James Stevenson, have a loyal fan base and a catalogue with which to excite. The ever-waving arms and clapping of hands underline this.

A euphoric Nirvana opened the encore, and then Spiritwalker’s tribal drums echoed under Astbury’s call of acquiesce. Sun King’s slow intro held the crowd in anticipation, and then all leapt in unison as the fjord filling riff and hollered vocals took aim towards Valhalla. And then the band sailed off, having praised the rock gods with their own musical imprint, leaving the mere mortals in shattered awe.

Photos: Lucy-Ann Ramsay and Alexander Tate.

One Response to “Powerhouse riffs surge through electric show.”
  1. Angharad Sanders says:

    Aaaaah mr muso, Your writing gets better every time – I get the impression you like Billy Duffy more than Ian Astbury. Sounds like a quality show. Regarding the ‘beard’ ha vic and bob – keep meaning to show Mary and William a YouTube clip of vic’s trousers falling down – seems to happen to William quite a lot x x x x

    Sent from my iPad

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