Since the goodly influx of bands birthed twenty-five plus years ago into venues across Australia, a phenomenon of sorts has begun. This is the phenomenon of musical ageism, where front men and women are judged to be wanting, on the basis of whether their teenage clothes still fit, or whether they can still hit the high notes. Automatically there is a negative perspective that needs to be disproven rather than an air of excitement about a long-loved band making its way thousands of kilometres to assuage the wants of far-away fans. The media has perpetuated this contrived state of angst about whether bands of longevity still have what it takes.
On a tour where the likes of Ian Astbury and company, from The Cult manage to stick their middle finger up at the naysayers, the media are temporarily silenced on this ageist platform. Band members who are self-assured and confident in their own skin don’t need to speak out against stupidity. The best way to silence the ‘genius’ of youngsters who haven’t yet lived is to get out and do just what ‘they’ say oldies can’t. Astbury can, and does, swing it.
In a set that metaphorically lit up Festival Hall, The Cult brought out the whole arsenal. The sixteen-song set took us on a tour of The Cult’s history – from their very first studio album to new songs written and recorded only a heartbeat ago. Fans here love to hear the hits, and the band didn’t disappoint. ‘Love Removal Machine’, ‘Lil Devil’ and ‘Fire Woman’ had punters swooning. ‘Deeply Ordered Chaos’ from their newest L.P. Hidden City gave us a taste of The Cult 2016. The politically powered lyrics tell of a loss of innocence, terrorism, corruption, sadness and a feeling of hopelessness and of unity.
Asbury’s vocals are clear and controlled, even if he has been fronting this band since the early ‘80s. Billy Duffy’s guitar says ‘The Cult’ in bigger letters than any moniker can, and Grant Fitzpatrick (bass), and John Tempesta (drums) play as though they’ve always been there. There is passion and a love for the music in spades.
Perhaps one day, there will be less speculation about the whole ‘can they still do it?’ question, and we will just love the music without all the gossip mag drama. But, to answer the question…yes, they can still do it (and probably much better than most).