The Cult at Varsity Theater, 8/6/13
|Photo courtesy of the artist|
with White Hills
Tuesday, August 6, 2013
Varsity Theater, Minneapolis
As the Cult took the stage and got down to the business at hand, Robert De Niro's voice echoed through the Varsity. It was his monologue as Travis Bickle in Taxi Driver -- "Someday a real rain will come and wash the scum off these streets." The words were frighteningly detached and determined as they were some 37 years ago, as well as being unsettlingly accurate, given the weather Tuesday night.
The Cult are touring behind 1987's Electric, playing it front-to-back each night -- save for the fairly awful cover of "Born to Be Wild", which they've wisely replaced in the set list with the lively, punk-infused B-side "Zap City" from 1988's Manor Sessions EP -- as well as offering up a smattering of songs from much of their early catalog. It was definitely a walk down memory lane, the question was, after getting through the known quantity, how would the rest of the night play out? The answers would come soon enough.
The band ripped into Electric's opener, "Wild Flower," and from there, the band, especially the usually talkative lead singer Ian Astbury, had very little to say from stage. By the time guitarist Billy Duffy unleashed the opening riff of "Lil' Devil," the album's third track, the Cult had hit its stride and went galloping full force through the rest of the album's formidable, intoxicating track list. Hearing it live, it seems the band was smart enough in 1987 to have employed an offbeat producer (Rick Rubin) to create a unique album that didn't exist inside any one genre. Instead of trying to exist in the hard rock/heavy metal vacuum, it simply created its own trajectory, leaving a wake behind it for others to follow. The songs on Electric, almost without exception, seem forged out of the sturdiest parts of the edgier material being produced in the early to mid-'80s. Incapable of rusting and showing few signs of wear, even in the most commonly traversed areas.
"Aphrodisiac Jacket" rumbled by as the Electric portion of the evening approached its midpoint, as well as "Electric Ocean" (most, if not all, of the songs have the word "electric" in the lyrics, if not the title) and "Bad Fun." Shortly thereafter, "Love Removal Machine," one of the band's signature songs, came along, and though Astbury began having trouble with his in-ear monitor, the song went off without a hitch and "Zap City" followed as the band put down the landing gear for part one.
"Outlaw," a low point for the album (and the Electric set, sadly) sort of meandered by somehow but the band redeemed themselves quickly with the closer "Memphis Hip Shake, " of which they played a slightly extended version, Astbury beginning to get a bit more talkative, introducing the band and offering at the end, "There was Electric. 38:27 in all it's glory. We'll be back in a few minutes."