For me, The Cult were always one of those bands who if you weren’t already a fan you’d be hard pressed to name even their biggest hit ‘She Sells Sanctuary’. You’d know the song as soon as you hear it… but the name would escape you. You’d see goth, you’d be told goth, and you’d hear 80s new wave with sprinklings of post punk and a dash of hair metal.
The reason for this is because I was born too late. When I think goth, I think of Manson and burning churches. If I had been born in the right era, goth would mean The Cult, The Cure, Killing Joke and all of the delay-soaked tunes that would be at home on the Donnie Darko soundtrack. The Cult is true goth with bleak nihilism and romanticism. On the same night that Slipknot frontman Corey Taylor is playing down the road, the real ones are all attending The Barrowlands for the original goth band. It’s like Bram Stoker’s universe vs Twilight.
The Cult presents Death Cult tonight… the predeceasing incarnation of The Cult that evolved into our hosts in 1983. To put that in perspective… I was born in 1985 and I’m over the hill. Tonight is an opportunity to experience the roots of the beginning of what we know became huge. Going into this, I’ve no doubt that they will play songs from The Cult… but these are considered covers. Tonight we get to experience the Big Bang. The spark that started it all. The early stuff that the posers pretend to only like.
Opening the show is the solitary support Lili Refrain. She’s an interesting act that fills the room with lush soundscapes and ambience. Not quite as out there as Bjork, but certainly has a flair for the experimental and curious. She’s a one-woman band who boasts no backing tracks (and if you read my previous reviews you know that ticks a box for me) and loops everything live. If you’re not used to experimental music then you would be forgiven for thinking this set is absolutely bonkers. Only three songs long from what I could work out but over the thirty minute mark while there’s no lyrics… only the singing of sustained notes.
You can’t deny this girl has got an incredible set of pipes on her and the musicianship is awesome in the “this evokes a sense of awe” definition. Watching this set while standing up can get a bit tiresome. What this artist needs is an auditorium filled with the most comfortable seats going so you can lie back and have the music wash over you. It’s the same kind of vibe as The Hu where you’re there to feel the sound and not actively participate.
Whatever you call our headliners tonight – The Cult or Death Cult – they hit the ball out of the park from the first note of ‘83rd Dream’ with huge sounding drums and a bass that’s driving harder than a Formula One engine.
The rhythm section is the real hero tonight as it supports guitar from Billy Duffy that’s loud and edgy but also has the softness that we recognize from the recordings. Frontman Ian Astbury has the confidence of a man who had done this for decades and his voice sounds as good as it did at the start. His stoic, rockstar posture often cracking as he sees the crowd singing back to him.
If you were coming here expecting The Cult you well may be disappointed with the set list. To the best of my limited knowledge, nothing beyond the mid-’80s was played. There’s going to be more time for future The Cult shows though… tonight was Death Cult and tonight we lived in the era where it all began.
The lack of new material made the set more real. You were never pulled out of the bubble by a newer track or any shameless plugging of anything. It was a show with only one purpose and that was to take us back. It did that magnificently.
Photos by Catching Light Photography