Metropolis – Montreal – September 1st 2012
The Cult was a band that I must admit was only on the periphery of my radar in their heyday. Their switch to hard rock with the Electric album piqued my curiosity but it wasn’t until I met my girlfriend Danielle (who places The Cult in her Top 5) that I started to discover their catalog beyond “Love Removal Machine”, “Wild Flower” or “Fire Woman”.
Having never seen them in their prime, I’ve at least had the chance to see them for the third time last night since their reunion in 2006. The show I saw in 2006 at the Molson Amphitheater in Toronto was brought down by Ian Astbury’s vocal problems, but the one in 2008 at the Olympia Theater in Montreal was great. Arriving at the Metropolis last night, I wondered which of these two performances was the fluke, and which one was the norm…
The balcony was already full, and so were the tables at the back of the floor (unfortunately the best sounding spot at the Metropolis) so we walked up to the stage and secured a 3rd row spot right in front of where Billy Duffy would ply his trade.
Opening acts Murder of Crows and Gloryhound were bland, uninspired and generic, which was unfortunate. Around 22h15, the lights went down and the crowed roared for The Cult as the members trickled on stage. Billy Duffy strapped on his white Gretsch and slammed into the opening riffs of “Lil’ Devil”. The place was rocking instantly!
It quickly became clear that the 06 show was the fluke! The Cult rocked with surgical precision through a short 16-track set that mostly came from their first 4 albums, with a few tracks from their latest album Choice of Weapon sprinkled throughout the show. In a particularly honest moment, Ian Astbury reminded the fans to approach the album with the same openness they showed when the band went from the alternative rock sound of Love to the hard rocking Electric. I must admit the songs fared much better live than on the album, and I will indeed revisit the album. The crowd was really into the new tracks, so they did not disrupt the flow of the concert.
As for the band, they have aged, but still bring it. Despite a few wrinkles, Billy Duffy played his vintage guitars with his usual skills: every note carefully chosen and not one out of place. Ian Astbury has lost some of his range (and he ducks out or cuts short some notes instead of croaking through them: the mark of a pro) but his voice is still warm, soulful and powerful. Truly one of the great voices of rock. The rest of the band was also really tight, but let’s be honest: Billy and Ian are The Cult.
- Lil’ Devil
- Honey From a Knife
- The Wolf
- The Phoenix
- Fire Woman
- For The Animals
- Wild Flower
- She Sells Sanctuary
- Love Removal Machine
He's also a regular contributor at the excellent news site Montreal Rampage