so, it’s tornado season in the great state of Texas. Looking on the bright side, British metal group THE CULT stormed into town on May 9 celebrating the 30th Anniversary of their Sonic Temple album released in 1989. The band gave a powerful whirlwind performance that included a 17 song setlist! The North American A Sonic Temple Tour kicked off on May 2 and it’s unequivocally a must see show!
With a chill in the air, die hard fans poured into House Of Blues Dallas. From the moment we entered, the atmosphere was full on party mode! With a predominantly male crowd the beer and alcohol were flowing and the party was going on strong and everyone was hyped up! If you dig high voltage, dark, stoner metal music you were in the right place with the right people and guaranteed to have a fantastic time!
Drink in hand I eased my way through a crowd full of partygoers with two of my “Sweet Soul Sisters” (pun intended) in order to get up front and as close to the stage as possible. Noisy chatter filled the air while we all waited with anticipation for the band to appear.
When Billy Duffy, (lead guitarist) walked out with his black guitar in hand the crowd screamed and whistled! Joining him were Damon Fox (keyboards), John Tempesta (drummer) and Grant Fitzpatrick (bassist).
They opened with “Sun King” and alas Ian Astbury, one of the most mysterious and coolest frontman in the history of hard core rock took center stage and followers of THE CULT went crazy with excitement!
The first half of the set was dedicated to Sonic Temple including “New York City”, “Automatic Blues”, which really stirred the crowd up and “American Horse”. Then Astbury said I want you to complete this song for me as he began to sing the words to “Deep In The Heart Of Texas”. The fans obliged and it was hysterically funny and totally out of character for Astbury. He stated they traveled 17 hours to Dallas and had been treated very well upon arrival.
Astbury clothed in black attire, sporting shorter hair these days and wearing his dark shades continued with “Soul Asylum” and several of their biggest hits “Sweet Soul Sister”, “Edie (Ciao Baby)” and “Fire Women” where the fans really cut loose screaming and fist pumping for more. I was dancing in place as much as I possibly could considering it was elbow to elbow room on the floor.
They represented a good mix of songs from Dreamtime, Love, Electric, and The Cult. The last time I witnessed the greatness of these guys was in the same venue in 2017. Astbury still continues to dominate the stage and draw you in with his intangible magnetism, his vocal prowess and unfettered spirit.
He twirls the mic around something fierce and is quite alluring, especially when he plays the tambourine. Unlike anyone else, he literally shakes it, throws it down on stage, it bounces back to his hands all while never missing a beat! It’s super cool to watch! And while most musicians toss out guitar pics to the audience Astbury tossed out a total of three tambourines giving one to a young boy who was directly in front of the stage with his parents. He said take this to school tomorrow and see what they think of you!
Moving forward they played “American Gothic” and “Rise” from Beyond Good and Evil followed by “Spirit Walker” and “Phoenix”. Axeman Billy Duffy is undeniably one of the most humbling players around and pretty much stays in his place. He showcased his white falcon guitar and he crushed it all night with his amazing shred-ability and blaring guitar solos, at times using the windmill motion most likely inspired by Keith Richards.
With Astbury and Duffy being the only original members and songwriters, some may cite they are the heart and soul of the group, but the entire band had full chemistry throughout the set. Drummer John Tempesta is highly underrated and for me it’s the rhythmic intensity that makes THE CULT sound come alive. Tempesta gave a short but thunderous drum solo and the crowd was digging it as they whistled and howled .
It was extremely obvious that people were being respectful and really holding back on snapping photographs and taking videos. Why? Because Astbury has been very vocal about it personally distracting him from performing and has encountered a verbal altercation that turned nasty in the past. Once again, towards the end of the night he called someone out near the front for being on their phone.
The light show was befitting of their dark side with red/black and blue/black colors and the occasional green and blue lights flashing. Much to my dismay they failed to play two famous fan favorites “Wildflower” which honestly should be included in every concert and “Peace Dog” one of my all time personal favorites!
The band closed with “She Sells Sanctuary” and everyone went insane! For the encore or should I say the calm before the storm they came back with “Saints Are Down”, and “Rain” before blowing the roof off the house with “Love Removal Machine” which left everyone rocking out with fists flying in the air and soaring in high spirits!
LIVE IMAGES AND WORDS: JANICE SPICER