LIVE REVIEW: The Cult, Sage Gateshead, 26th May 2019

Hearing a certain song is often enough to transport you back to a different time and a different place, effortlessly time travelling through the power of music.

When the opening guitar refrain of Spiritwalker chimed around the hall, memories of a show 35 years ago at Tiffany’s in Newcastle sprang to mind, where The Cult first played supporting their debut album Dreamtime. 

A lot of time has passed but the memory remains, and The Cult have certainly come a long way since then. 

Ian Astbury from The Cult performing at Sage Gateshead. Pic: Mick Burgess.

Big hit singles that defined an era, multi-million selling platinum albums and huge stadium tours, not to mention a catalogue of music that has constantly evolved and pushed musical boundaries. 

The Cult are certainly a one-off and they are also a devastatingly potent live act.

While half of Newcastle was over at Exhibition Park for the This Is Tomorrow Festival, Sage Gateshead was packed on Sunday night for this unique show by The Cult to celebrate the 30th anniversary of their mega-seller Sonic Temple.

Billy Duffy from The Cult performing at Sage Gateshead. Pic: Mick Burgess.

For the first half of the show it was 100% Sonic Temple, from the opener Sun King to Automatic Blues and everything in between, including the big hits Sweet Soul Sister, Firewoman and Edie (Cia Baby). 

For the fans, hearing rare takes on Automatic Blues and American Horse was worth the price of admission alone, while the atmospheric keyboards of Damon Fox added an extra dimension to The Cult’s sound on Soul Asylum.

Lead singer Ian Astbury cut a fine swaggering figure, dressed in black with a pair of shades permanently affixed to his face living up to his Wolf Child persona, with a voice that has retained its edge and power over the years.

Ian Astbury and Billy Duffy of The Cult performing at Sage Gateshead. Pic: Mick Burgess.

His foil Billy Duffy pulled every shape in the guitar hero book while delivering the riffs and solos on which The Cult’s greatest songs are built.

Astbury announced “that’s all from Sonic Temple, as the others are dodgy”, which meant the rest of the set was a mix of songs from right across their career, including Rise and American Gothic from their millennium-busting album Beyond Good And Evil, and Saints Are Down from their self-titled 1994 release.

The Cult put on a stunning show at the Sage Gateshead. Pic: Mick Burgess.

Dipping back deep into their past saw the aforementioned Spiritwalker and the wah wah heavy The Phoenix prime the crowd ready for the big hits, and She Sells Sanctuary and Rain duly followed, before Love Removal Machine left the crowd breathless and absolutely ecstatic.

During the show Astbury jokingly thanked the crowd for choosing The Cult rather than Stereophonics over at Exhibition Park, remarking “after all, we are a better band”. And you just can’t argue with that really.

Mick Burgess