THE CULT *** PICTURE HOUSE, EDINBURGH
OLD goths die hard, and Cult fans are an especially resilient bunch, with many of the Caledonian faithful firing up the crimpers once again for one more black-clad mass.
The occasion for this reunion is 2009's favourite excuse for a tour – yet another revisiting of a "classic" album. The Cult's 1985 album Love doesn't regularly appear on any "all-time greatest" lists and neither is it celebrating a significant birthday, but it has just been re-issued by their former label Beggars Banquet and is as close as the band gets to a defining collection, being the album that heralded the transition from cult Cult to chart Cult. Judging by the rammed venue, there are still many fans who hold it in high regard.
The catalyst for that commercial crossover was not the whole album, however, but one of its tracks, She Sells Sanctuary. Now that is a classic, a staple of any goth disco. But bands don't build a tour round celebrating one classic track – that would have made a short gig, and The Cult (especially frontman Ian Astbury) is not known for pithiness.
The singles, Sanctuary, Rain and Revolution, were dispatched succinctly enough but Brother Wolf, Sister Moon, in particular, plodded on for an age, a portentous hangover from Astbury's abiding interest in native American culture, delivered like a bloated Jim Morrison by the frontman. Astbury has taken on the role of Lizard King substitute on a couple of Doors reunion tours but these days he is more hairy biker than mystic shaman. His trusty sidekick, guitarist Billy Duffy, still cleaves to the blond spiky hairstyle and white guitar which gleamed in the Sanctuary video.
In contrast, much of the crowd, according to Astbury, "looked like bankers". "Grow your hair – the party's not finished," he scolded, forgetting that we can't all be LA-dwelling rock stars. That's his job, as he demonstrated on the derivative, hoary likes of Love and Phoenix, both representative of an album which paid blatant homage to its influences – Led Zeppelin, The Stooges and the Sunset Strip scene – without ever transcending them.