The Cult made a triumphant return to The Paramount in Huntington, Long Island on Wednesday. The evening marked its third appearance in three years at the former vaudeville theater (originally opened in 1927) in support of its tenth album, “Hidden City” (Cooking Vinyl). The members of the band strolled coolly onstage to cheers as guitarist Billy Duffy clutched his Gretsch Black Falcon and launched into the opening riff of Wild Flower. Singer Ian Astbury sauntered out from the darkness, clutched the microphone with both hands and howled “Hey you…” as the band leaned into the blistering groove and the audience screamed along. The Cult played a dazzling 75-minute set of new songs and cherished gems that was high on energy and did not disappoint.

Alive In The Hidden City is the band’s third full tour in five years, following the tour to support “Choice of Weapon” in 2012 and the Electric 13 tour (revisiting the 1987 “Electric” album), which continued into 2014. The Cult hasn’t even been off the road a full year, having played a few select dates in 2015. The band should be showing signs of wear but instead, almost defiantly, The Cult played like the world was on fire.

 

Perhaps stimulated by renewed interest in the band following the Electric 13 tour and its appearance at Coachella in 2014, enthusiasm for The Cult has been high. “Hidden City” has been critically well received and they have been playing more dates at larger and more diverse venues since first heading out in February. In the NYC area alone, The Cult has already played The Gramercy in Manhattan, The Music Hall of Williamsburg, (Brooklyn) and just appeared at The Shubert Theater in Boston, Mass. and The Fox Theater (at Foxwoods Resort Casino) in Connecticut. The Paramount was packed.

The band moved into the charging new song, Dark Energy which features drummer John Tempesta exploring a more tribal sound recalling Kings of the Wild Frontier-era Adam And The Ants. Though the single was released in November and is only five months old, the crowd welcomed it like an old favorite. The band followed this with Rain, a standout single from the 1985 album, “Love”, which further enlivened the audience.

The Cult tours as a five-piece, featuring a rhythm guitarist to enhance the band’s studio sound. On this trek the band is touring as a five-piece with a rhythm guitarist who doubles as a keyboardist, Damon Fox, of progressive California rock band Big Elf. He resembles a young Mick Fleetwood and is positioned to the side behind new bassist Grant Fitzpatrick (of the Australian band MINK), stage right. The addition of keys, an instrument The Cult has not brought out live since the Ceremonial Stomp tour (supporting “Ceremony”, 1991/1992), not only enhances the sound of the band but elevates certain songs providing a full, rich texture (mood, melody) to compliment the guitars and drums, notably on songs like Horse Nation and the new Hinterland, which followed.

the cult live NY 2016 billy duffy

Exclusive Photos by Evelyn Duncan

The focal point of the band is its two architects: Ian Astbury and Billy Duffy. The two have been recording for more than 30 years but seem relatively unfazed by time. The duo may have changed their hairstyles and taste in clothes but their presence remains enigmatic. Duffy, who lately bears more than a passing resemblance to David Beckham, is a stoic master of austerity as a guitarist, never ostentatious and given to excessive noodling, (let alone narcissistic guitar soloing). Whether this is due to his upbringing, his training or distaste for histrionics, he is a delight to behold when he plays for his panache and especially for his sustain.

Astbury, his wavy black hair now down to his shoulders, decked in black and wearing black sunglasses, looked like the wayward son of Che Guevara and Jackie Onassis as he slinked and gyrated around the stage between verses. His voice is as powerful as ever but it was noteworthy that he moved more freely and was more animated than he’s been in years (remarkable, given that he had a hip resurfacing several years ago): flipping his hair, whipping the microphone cord and generally looking like a rock star. In a world bereft of true rock stars, Astbury is rare gem.

the cult live NY 2016 band

Exclusive Photo by Evelyn Duncan

On the wide stage and flanked by giant video screens, these two Englishmen who live in Los Angeles enthralled the Long Island crowd through blistering renditions of Gone, (from the untitled 1994 album) and Lil’ Devil (from “Electric”) before showcasing two more new tracks, Birds of Paradise and Deeply Ordered Chaos. The crowd seemed split on the new material, largely unfamiliar with it; some went to the bar while others paid heed, but each song closed with respectful, if not ebullient, applause.

Sweet Soul Sister and Fire Woman (both from “Sonic Temple”, 1989) kicked off a four song arc of beloved hits that invigorated the crowd, moving it forward, pressing toward the stage barricade. Sweet Soul Sister was especially thrilling with its fully realized keyboard accompaniment. The Phoenix and She Sells Sanctuary (both from “Love”) closed the set.

 

The wait for an encore was brief as the band returned and ripped into G.O.A.T (Greatest Of All Time) from the new album. The song is especially heavy, Zeppelin-esque in many ways, and is certain on its way to becoming a staple of The Cult shows. They closed, as they always do, with a thundering, energetic performance of Love Removal Machine (from “Electric”). As Astbury thanked the crowd, the band members moved to toss guitar picks and drum sticks to the delighted throng and Astbury announced he’s torn his trousers: pretty funny and indicative of how much he was moving.

The Cult is having a renaissance it seems, and if this is the case, Astbury, Duffy, Tempesta, Fox and Fitzpatrick are advancing forward with unflagging energy, cunning and grace.

THE CULT
The Paramount
Huntington, New York
April 6, 2016

Set list:

Wild Flower
Dark Energy
Rain
Horse Nation
Hinterland
Rise
Gone
Lil’ Devil
Birds of Paradise
Deeply Ordered Chaos
Sweet Soul Sister
Fire Woman
The Phoenix
She Sells Sanctuary

Encore:
G.O.A.T.
Love Removal Machine

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Mick Stingley
Collaborator - RREVERB

Mick Stingley is a freelance writer with a concentration in music and humor. He has been published in Esquire, The Hollywood Reporter, Rolling Stone, BillBoard, VICE, Metal Edge, Terrorizer, Dominion, KNAC.com, Men's Fitness, FHM, The Huffington Post, Hustler, Consequence of Sound and The New York Post among others. He lives with his fiancee in NYC.