Monday, 15 September 2014

31/10/2013 The Cult @ The Roundhouse

This is a gig I'd been particularly looking forward to, not just The Cult at The Roundhouse - but on Halloween too! I stopped off for a quick livener at BrewDog first before making my way through the fancy dress Halloween crowds (so many of them obviously don't get Halloween at all) to the legendary Camden venue. I was pleased when it was announced that the show would be at this unique place - I'd far rather see a band here than Hammersmith Odeon, Brixton Academy, or The Forum. There is more space and it's easier to get a good view without being crushed or constantly barged into by inconsiderate wankers. Unlike most large venues it has decent toilets and bars. The drinks might not be cheap, but as it's not a 'corporate' venue the beers are cheaper and better quality than the above mentioned rip-off venues.

Another reason I'd been particularly looking forward to this show is because The Cult have decided to do what a lot of bands are doing these days and play one of their classic albums in full. This apparently worked well with the band's 'Love' album several years ago. My favourite Cult album has always been 'Electric' - the Rick Rubin produced one where they went for a huge and raw AC/DC type sound. Now they are playing this album in full (nearly) as part of the 'Electric 13' tour - I just had to get a ticket for this!

It was definitely worth the wait. The two set show starts with the band launching into 'Wild Flower' the album's opening track. The sound mix is OK if not great and improves as the show goes on. The band are on good form in spite of me hearing reports of them being a bit on the ropey side last time they played in London. It's a long time since I've seen The Cult and this is only the third time I've seen them - the previous occasions being at Reading Festival and supporting Guns 'N' Roses at Milton Keynes. They were good both times and definitely one of my Reading highlights. Ian Astbury and Billy Duffy have been the only two original members for many years now - the rhythm guitar, bass, and drum spots these days being taken by James Stevenson, Chris Wyse, and John Tempesta respectively. However, at tonight's show we also get the welcome appearance of former bassist and rhythm guitarist Jamie Stewart on a few songs - meaning we get to see three quarters of the 'classic' Cult lineup on stage together. Maybe something never to be repeated.
'Peace Dog' and 'Lil' Devil' follow in quick succession and the band are sounding good. The songs are played in the same running order as they appear on the album...
Everything is going well and 'Love Removal Machine' is a highlight as expected, but then there is a surprise - 'Born To Be Wild' is missing! The band head straight into 'Outlaw' and 'Memphis Hip Shake' to finish the first set. We had been led to believe the 'Electric' album would be played in it's entirety - that's what we paid good money to see. I feel slightly cheated, and am not convinced by Astbury's reasoning that the band don't like the song (then why put it on the album in the first place?) or want to play it, and audiences don't like it anyway. I don't buy the last point in particular as I know for sure that a lot of people like the song and did want to hear it - lots of people are saying so later. Lemmy is sick of playing 'Ace Of Spades' at every single Motörhead show since the early 1980's - but he still plays it as he realises it is his job to play it as it's one of the songs people pay to see. It's a better job better than working in a factory innit? In his words it's 'put a shirt on his back for thirty years'. One other reason people offer is simply that they are too tight to pay the royalties for playing a cover song? I find that unconvincing as loads of major bands include one or two (sometimes more)  covers in their live sets. I and many other people don't feel we are getting all we paid for at this show as we aren't actually getting the 'Electric' album played in full as we expected. That might seem a minor point to some, but it does rankle as I feel there is no good reason for not playing the popular Steppenwolf song. That point aside, I really can't fault this show and I think it's well worth the £35 face value ticket price.

Ian Astbury's voice may not be what it once was, but he still sounds good tonight. It's noticeable that like Saxon's Biff Byford he keeps his rather warm looking coat on all night, maybe concious of comments regarding pies that have been made after gigs in the last couple of years - he's no bloater though so I don't think he has too much to worry about. Billy Duffy has no such worries and plays like a bastard tonight - he really rips it up!
Billy plays a couple of Les Pauls during the 'Electric' part of the show, but later his trademark Gretch White Falcon appears so he can play the earlier more 'Goth' songs as well..
Obviously the 'Electric' album on it's own would take well under and hour to play and not justify the ticket price - although if they just played 'Lil' Devil' and 'Love Removal' machine as part of a normal show I'd still go home happy! After a short break the band return to play a selection of songs from the 'pre' and 'post- Electric parts of their career. I'm really pleased to hear 'Spirit Walker' from their debut 'Dreamtime' album. One thing that does surprise me a bit is how quiet the crowd seem to be for this 'special' show - I was really expecting a lot more audience reaction, but the crowd seem rather subdued to me considering the occasion. Mr Astbury seems to think so too and makes one or two comments, but predictably the crowd go crazy when the distinctive intro to 'She Sells Sanctuary' rings out! Personally I've never got that excited about this song, and I feel I've heard it far too many times on the radio over the years - but I guess that's just me. I'm more pleased to hear the song or two they play from 'Sonic Temple', although personally I found that album a bit too polished and a bit of an anti-climax after 'Electric'. I'm also very pleased to hear 'Honey From A Knife' and 'Lucifer' (well it is Halloween) from the band's excellent most recent album 'Choice Of Weapon'

All in all (apart from a certain song being conspicuous by it's absence) I think the choice of setlist is superb and almost exactly what I would have chosen myself to fill the time available - a very good show indeed and well worth the money.

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