The Cult's new songs too good to be hidden away

Live review: The Cult at Newcastle City Hall
The Cults Ian Astbury and Billy Duffy at a previous show. Photo: Jay Janner/Statesman.comThe Cults Ian Astbury and Billy Duffy at a previous show. Photo: Jay Janner/
The Cults Ian Astbury and Billy Duffy at a previous show. Photo: Jay Janner/

Hidden City, the Cult’s latest album in a career stretching back to 1983, is far too good to be hidden away, being their best for over quarter of a century, and they were clearly mindful of its merits at Newcastle City Hall on Wednesday night, March 9.

Far from being hidden, it was given pride of place in their 80-minute set, with five of its 12 tracks getting an airing.

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First up was set opener Dark Energy, also the album’s opening track, and Hinterland, Birds of Paradise, Deeply Ordered Chaos and Greatest of All Time were to follow.

All were given a warm welcome, one prompting a shout of ‘canny song that’ from a near-capacity crowd, and none seemed out of place among the esteemed company they were keeping in the night’s setlist, classics such as Rain, Fire Woman, Wild Flower, Lil’ Devil, main set closer She Sells Sanctuary and final encore Love Removal Machine all being present and correct.

Frontman Ian Astbury was in good voice throughout, though his inter-song banter, delivered in a transatlantic drawl mixing his native Cheshire with his current home state of California in the US, wasn’t always readily intelligible.

Fellow founder member Bill Duffy was also in cracking form, delivering his trademark riffs with precision and energy and throwing in lots of guitar hero poses, as depicted on the cover of the 1989 album Sonic Temple, for good measure.

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The guitarist, unlike Astbury, was the archetypal man of few words until right at the end when he thanked fans for coming to see the Cult rather than his former Coloursound and Dead Men Walking bandmate Mike Peters at the city’s O2 Academy that same night, supporting the Stranglers.

“There aren’t many great rock bands left who are British and still alive, so we’re about as good as you’re going to get,” the 54-year-old added.

Quite a few bands might well dispute that claim, but he was certainly right about the Cult being a great band, and this was, without doubt, a great show.