Much has been discussed and disseminated recently in the wake of David Bowie’s recent death on how the band playing live at Nottingham’s Rock City on Monday, 29th February, were and still are influenced by the iconoclast. It would be no shame or disgrace to also cite the influence from other epochal rock legend that also recently passed away, namely Lemmy of Motörhead, who’s straight-edged rock and boogie can be heard in the band’s harder-edged output. The band are touring to promote their latest album Hidden City (QRO review), which has been roundly lauded as a triumphant return after a four year hiatus since 2012’s Choice of Weapon. The Cult’s forte has always erred on the blues-influenced side of the hard rock genre and Hidden City is no exception, with Mark Lanegan being a notable influence. Fans of this particular genre are almost Stalinesque in their resistance to change, and their devotion and allegiance to their chosen deities is unquestionable. This guaranteed reverence creates an aura of confidence that allows the artists to flourish and effloresce, with the only stipulation being that the form in itself is more important than its evolution.
The set was neither a greatest hits package, nor a hard sell of the new Hidden City, but a carefully crafted amalgam of the two. They opened with the brooding “Dark Energy” from the new album and the capacity crowd were eager to play their part in the two-way exchange of the rock and roll ether. The passing of time had not dimmed the enthusiasm for the live event for the two main protagonists of Ian Astbury and Billy Duffy. Astbury was all yawp and croon whist beating the living daylights out of his tambourine whilst Duffy threw his trademark Gretsch around with wanton abandon. The Cult have always played Rock City when in Nottingham, shunning the larger seated arenas, thus sacrificing the dollar for atmosphere and crowd participation which by the time they closed the set with the classic She sells sanctuary was bordering on frenzied. The demand for more was felt as a tangible force as much as a desperation for the evening not to draw to a close and the band duly returned for a three-song encore closing with “Love Removal Machine”. All that was left was for the band to duly thank the audience for playing their part in what was a dynamic display of the power of classic rock and roll. Long may they and that deeply forged kinship they have with their fans continue.