(The Fillmore, Detroit, MI - March 26th, 2016)
The Cult, for those uninitiated, are a British rock band formed in 1983. They gained a dedicated following in the UK in the mid-1980s as a post-punk/gothic rock band with singles such as 'She Sells Sanctuary', before breaking mainstream in the US in the late 1980s as a hard rock band with singles such as 'Love Removal Machine' and 'Fire Woman'.
Since their earliest form in Bradford during 1981, the band have had various line-ups; the longest-serving members are vocalist Ian Astbury and guitarist Billy Duffy, the band's two songwriters. John Tempesta – drums - has been with the band since 2007.
And so here tonight in Detroit, in support of their brand new 10th studio album, Hidden City - an album that is also the final part of a trilogy that began with both Born Into This (2007) and Choice of Weapon (2012) - The Cult brought both original members and newbies to the home of Motown. Taking quietly to the stage undercover of darkness, the band set themselves, whilst Astbury places some lyric sheets down by his speaker. Reaching for a tambourine, he then counts the band into the opening song, 'Dark Energy.' With no Cult banner backdrop, all the band in black, the stage lights always dark colors, the band still ride their cool Goth demeanor to the max - and rightfully so.
Midway through the first song a large man causes some trouble front row and as Astbury looks on, is dragged out by security and escorted out of the building. Heading into 'Rain,' 'Wild Flower,' and even 'Horse Nation,' Astbury is finding his ease with the stage still, chatting with other band members, even walking off stage mid-songs. But all that changes before 'Hinterland' is brought forth. "Good evening, Detroit," Astbury finally acknowledges the packed house. "We all good down the front now?" he asks the front section, based on the aforementioned incident during the first song.
"That was 'Hinterland'," Astbury acknowledges after the song. "Thank you for coming tonight. Well done, Detroit, I see you are getting it back together again," he adds, in reference to the rebuilding of our fair city after Detroit had sadly filed for Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection in 2013. 'Honey From A Knife' is next and is most definitely the most pop song-esque I think I've ever heard The Cult be, before Astbury addresses the crowd again. "Thank you kindly. Everybody good now?" Under a purple spotlight, the keyboards are lit and a gentle piano intro brings us 'Gone'.
But it's around this time that Astbury begins to crank up his rants. Seemingly getting more and more irritated by all the cell phones and lack of audience participation for the new songs, he shuts the band down. "Are we going to connect tonight, Detroit? Is it going to happen," he asks. "You've all got to participate. Anyway, you guys should know that here tonight is the best band we've had ever," he then admits, opening up his arms to showcase the foursome around him. But he is right as nobody does connect with the new songs. Indeed, there is absolutely no crowd moshing, no en masse arm waving, no out of tune chorus singing. Nothing. They are still. Silent. Quiet throughout each of the new tracks.
But all that changes when Astbury admits "If it wasn't for the MC5 and Iggy And The Stooges we wouldn't be here today" and The Cult then launch into their own 1987 classic hit 'Lil' Devil.' "Thank you," he says, come its end, before sidestepping into a stage-pacing conversation about his reducing man boobs, about good and bad luck, about life controlling our every moves and more. Then as he quietens the crowd down with his finger to his lips, next the band bring us 'Birds Of A Feather,' which again, being a new track, doesn't do much for the paying audience.
Raising his dark sunglasses for the first time away from his eyes and up, momentarily to his forehead, Astbury talks again about his desire to see all the cell phones put away, before a long instrumental lead in finally brings us yet another new cut, 'Deeply Ordered Chaos.' The crowd, as expected, remain unaffected.
After that, Astbury delivers a message to the younger members of the crowd. "Young bloods. The new generation. Don't believe what they are telling you," he instructs, before we get a rousing double act of both 'Sweet Soul Sister' (the third single taken from the brilliant album Sonic Temple) backed by the song of the night, 'Fire Woman.' And sure, Astvbury's vocals are torn a little by now, and he seems a little out of breath, but the power, the intensity of the tracks themselves bring the crowd to life - finally!
During 'The Phoenix' (a track from their underrated 1985 second album, Love) each band member gets a 30 second solo moment to showcase their talents, which also includes Astbury breaking yet another cheap-looking tambourine mid-song. "Thank you," he says, as the show nears its end. "You guys having a good time," he asks, before we get an underwhelming 'She Sells Sanctuary,' complete with a mid section break where Astbury mumbles the words, hopefully in tribute, I'm a Blackstar.
"Thank you, Detroit City," Astbury says, ending the set. "OK, you wanna hear some more music?" he then adds, before immediately leaving the stage! Less than two minutes later he is back, alone, and rambling into his mic like some off-track comedian at an empty club. Hitting hot topics of the day, he moves through each one like wildfire, never fixating long enough on one before he's into the next. He even mentions Justin Bieber's current tour, Purpose, and the fact he just split his own new pants on stage tonight! "Alright, please, can we connect tonight, Detroit," he asks them, once again. "Turn off your f**king phones. You're missing your lives. We love you and we just want you to be right here with us tonight. You're coming back, Detroit. You're not f**king dead. Come on now, Detroit," he fist pumps into the air before we get another new track, 'G.O.A.T.'
As that song ends, Astbury is once again at the mic, addressing the crowd. "Thank you kindly. That was fun. That wasn't written too long ago, but this next song should have you up and dancing. Detroit, are you ready to put your dance pants on? Ladies and Gentlemen. Boys and Girls. Are you ready to break out the killer jams, my Brothers and Sisters?", he pleads, as The Cult bring us the last song of the night, and one that has everybody up, singing, arms waving, 'Love Removal Machine'.
Come it's end, the crowd (finally) baying their love, appreciation for the band, Astbury destroys yet another tambourine, introduces the band one by one, thanks everyone for coming out (especially those from Windsor, Canada), and then the band are gone - for now.
Reviewed by: Russell A. Trunk