LIVE REVIEW: The Cult, O2 Academy, Leeds, Sunday 20 October 2019

Ian Astbury and Billy Duffy of The Cult on stage at the O2 Academy in Leeds. Pic: 5par5kin5.

The Cult will probably need no introduction to the audience of this website. Love them or hate them, they’ve been with us in various line-ups since the early 1980s – existing first as Southern Death Cult, then Death Cult, and finally settling on The Cult around 1984.

Since then, The Cult have released 10 – yes, 10, count them – studio albums ranging in style from ‘80s goth rock, to more bluesy-influenced (a la The Doors), and full-on hard rock, with the partnership of Ian Astbury and Billy Duffy at the helm throughout.

Tonight’s gig was part of a 10-date UK tour celebrating 30 years since the release of the band’s most successful album to date. Sonic Temple, their fourth album, is often lauded as the release that launched The Cult on a global scale.

And it’s so easy to see why. A Sonic Temple live in 2019 sounds as fresh as it did on its first outing three decades ago, with Duffy’s heavy riffs and Astbury’s vocal range remaining unchanged or diminished by the slow swing of Old Father Time’s rusting scythe!

All its tracks featured in tonight’s 17-song set, kicking off with Sun King, moving through Automatic Blues, American Horse, New York City, Soul Asylum, Edie and Fire Woman. For some reason, during Sweet Soul Sister, Astbury included the chorus line from This Corrosion by Sisters of Mercy and referred to Andrew Eldritch.

I don’t know what this referred to – an ’80s Yorkshire Goth dispute between the two bands, perhaps, or maybe just a namecheck to a buddy given the title of the song?

The Cult on stage at the O2 Academy in Leeds. Pic: 5par5kin5.

In between Sonic Temple tracks, The Cult also played popular tunes from Electric, Revolution, and their first album Dreamland (Horse Nation and Spiritwalker – the latter of which sounds just incredible in 2019), preferring to leave out material from more recent releases.

They played the inevitable track at the very end – something about sanctuary – but I’d been blown too far away at this point to care about the song that has sealed a million teenage romances on a million more dancefloors.

The gig closed with Astbury and Duffy delivering a dialogue in the style of one of those interviews immediately after tennis matches that have become so popular. During this banter, we learnt of Duffy’s Lancashire origins and debated Astbury’s ‘alleged’ Bratfut origins ….. and the audience roared in agreement when Duffy considered ‘Yorkshire to be the Texas of England’.

The Cult’s merch stand at the O2 Academy in Leeds. Pic: 5par5kin5.

Given that it is virtually a hometown gig, The Cult are far too big for this venue – and probably could have played somewhere twice the size – so it was a privilege to see a band of such stature perform in such a comparatively intimate setting (when compared to their recent world travels).