The Cult & Masters of Reality – Glasgow 02 Academy – 29/01/11
The Cult were one of my listening staples in the 80’s and ‘Love’ remains one of my top albums that I have never tired of listening to. When a mate suggested a trip to Glasgow to see them back in December I was my vote was an immediate ‘yes’, as for various reasons I had never seen them live. Tickets were bought for the 4 of us who elected to go, a hotel was duly booked and it was only then I realised I was double-booked with the Mogwai gig at The Music Hall…since I had tickets to see Mogwai in Edinburgh in February, the decision was made slightly easier.
The support turned out to be Masters of Reality, whose name I was familiar with but I hadn’t heard before. As it turned out they were pretty good, very reminiscent of Queens of the Stone Age at times, which made sense when I did some research on them and found that they have had close links with them and Josh Homme’s previous band Kyuss. Singer Chris Goss is an imposing figure, a big guy with a shaved head and beard who stood in complete contrast to the wee female bass player on his left. To his right was a familiar looking figure on guitar who I was sure was Dave Catching, who has played with Eagles of Death Metal amongst others and the band intro’s at the end confirmed it was him.
I was sure I had read that The Cult had a new album out or about to appear, but a bit of Google research pre-gig had found they have started to release ‘Capsules’ on the internet for download, in the form of various media. Being an old-fashioned type who generally can’t be arsed pissing about downloading, this meant I wasn’t familiar with a few of the songs played on the night, which I assume were from these ‘Capsule’ releases.
The Cult appeared on-stage to a backdrop of film images which remained in place all through the set, emphasising a number of political sub-texts n the songs. Singer Ian Astbury and guitarist Billy Duffy are the 2 mainstays who have been together since Astbury’s first band Southern Death Cult morphed into Death Cult, with Duffy being drafted in from Theatre of Hate. Astbury has returned to the long black mane of hair that he sported in the 80’s, although he is looking somewhat less lean than in days gone by. Billy Duffy, however, looked pretty lean and fit – perhaps due to his stints with an ex-pat football team he is part of in LA with Vinnie Jones, among others.
The set-list was a pretty satisfying mix of old and new, the second song in after an unfamiliar new one being ‘Rain’, one of their biggest hits from the ‘Love’ album and recently covered by Japanese noise-merchants Boris on their collaborative EP with Ian Astbury. Musically, things were sounding very good but it became obvious that Astbury was going to adopt his habit of missing sections of vocals. I’ve seen him do this on live footage and had put it down to his alcohol intake of old but I definitely noticed a pattern of newer songs seeming to have more vocal input that the older ones, which sort of spoiled it for me a bit.
Astbury seemed to be in a temperamental mood, one minute bantering with the audience in a hopeless fake Scottish accent, the next berating someone for taking photos.
Third song was a step even further back, ‘Horse Nation’ from debut album ‘Dreamtime’, the familiar guitar lines being churned out by Duffy with years of experience. This period was served unexpectedly well, with ‘Spiritwalker’ and ‘Go West’ also making appearances. Oldest song of the evening was ‘Ghost Dance’, from one of the 2 EP’s released as Death Cult before they shortened their name.
The end of the main set saw outings for ‘Wild Flower’ and ‘Love Removal Machine’ from the ‘Electric’ album and also, of course, ‘She Sells Sanctuary’, the biggest and most familiar song of their career.
Astbury’s tenure as Jim Morrison replacement in The Doors was acknowledged by a closing rendition of ‘Break on Through’, which I found a bit of a curious choice for a Cult gig and personally I would rather of heard something else. A decent enough gig overall, music was great, vocals a bit lazy, but hey, I’ve seen The Cult at long last. Now, if only Sisters of Mercy would only tour again… Godzilla Blues
The Cult Website
Masters of Reality Website