Hot on the heels of an expansive reissue set to commemorate the 30th anniversary of band’s multi-platinum selling ‘Sonic Temple’ album The Cult have long since sold out Cardiff University’s Great Hall, with this ten date run of shows across England, Wales and Scotland celebrating all things Sonic and Temple-like proving to be their most popular in many a year.
Myself having never been that big a fan of said opus (I much prefer the three albums that directly preceded it) I did initially dither a bit over whether to actually pick a ticket up for this one whilst in the weeks running up to the show itself I was half toying with the idea of passing it on to my RPM compadre Hotshot Hooper as he’d only recently discovered the delights of band’s largely superb back catalogue.
A few memory jogging spins of the aforementioned 5 CD ‘Sonic Temple’ box set though and suddenly I’m driving through stop/start Friday night traffic and seemingly endless sheets of rain (there’s a gag in there but I’m not doing it…yet) now actually half looking forward to seeing Ian Astbury and Billy Duffy back in the place they’d almost half flattened six years earlier on the opening night of their then UK tour celebrating the ‘Electric’ album.
Unfortunately due to my journey into Cardiff taking almost twice as long as usual I only get to catch the last two songs of tonight’s openers The Last Internationale with the band sounding a hell of lot feistier than the last time I saw them live just down the M4 at the Newport Centre (plying their wares for a much more sedate Robert Plant audience), and by the time I’ve finally taken up my prime viewing spot a few rows from the front of the stage singer/bassist Delila Paz is already in the crowd and loving every second of their chance to play Wales once again. With new music to promote and upcoming dates across Europe with Rival Sons, what I did get to hear of The Last Internationale tonight sounded bluesy in a Buck & Evans kind of way yet still positively huge. So, if you’re off to one of these shows make sure you get in early doors and check them out. It’s not for me though.
After the longest intro tape known to humanity seamlessly segues into Grant Fitzpatrick’s gigantic bass rumble intro to ‘Sun King’ it feels like the audience in the Great Hall has suddenly trebled in size as the crowd slowly starts to wake up and dance along to the opening track of the night, but as Mr Astbury (who once again tonight looks and sounds back at his very best) states right from the off “it’s time to ease into things baby, let’s not rush it”.
‘Wild Flower’ quickly follows and unlike with the Love and Electric tours that have gone, it’s interesting to note that The Cult have chosen not to play ‘Sonic Temple’ in sequence or in fact as it would go on to prove in its totality, with the final trio of tracks from the album (‘Soldier Blue’, ‘Wake Up Time For Freedom’ and ‘Medicine Train’) all missing from the set list tonight.
Of the seven ‘Temple’ tracks aired during the first half of the set ‘Sweet Soul Sister’ complete with Damon Fox’s sublime Jon Lord-like keyboard intro and thunderous drumming from John Tempesta truly soars in all its stadium rock majesty whilst ‘Soul Asylum’ is still The Cult’s very own ‘Kashmir’, however aside from the new wave of classic rock brigade in attendance all trying to be teenagers once again, things (just like during the Love tour) don’t really shift through the gears until we hit the ‘Beyond Good & Evil’ pairing of ‘Rise’ and ‘American Gothic’ give us a glimpse of 21st century Cult at their very finest.
I never thought I’d be saying this after tonight’s drive, but the arrival of ‘Rain’ is welcomed with open arms (boom boom) as it finally gets all the old goths out of the shadows and going suitably bananas whilst ‘Phoenix’ complete with Stooges teaser intro courtesy of an on fire Billy Duffy sends the atmosphere off the scale. This leaves just enough time for ‘Spiritwalker’, Fire Woman’ and ‘Love Removal Machine’ all in quick succession and all those brand new £30 tour shirts in the crowd will certainly be in need of an immediate wash first thing in the morning.
Returning for an encore that sees ‘Horse Nation’ dedicated to the both long since departed and still very missed Nigel Preston and Swansea Circles club, its left to the ultimate goth anthem of ‘She Sells Sanctuary’ to close things out, and the delight on the faces of both Astbury and Duffy as the lights go up is there for everyone to see. Something that makes nights like these feel so much more special.
What lies ahead next for The Cult though I wonder? I doubt a Ceremony 30th anniversary tour is going to be high on many people’s must-see lists, so will 2020 see new music from the band, and a long overdue follow up to 2016’s Hidden City?
Whatever happens, It’ll always be CFFC.
Author: Johnny Hayward
Review of Sonic Temple 30 Here