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The Cult celebrate 30 years of hit album with Birmingham show - review with pictures

By Rory Smith | Birmingham | Music | Published:

The Cult graced thousands in Birmingham last night during their tour to mark the 30th anniversary of their Sonic Temple album with an electrifying, youthful performance that proved why this hardworking band continues to play to sell-out crowds around the world.

The Cult at Birmingham's O2 Institute. Pictures by: Andy Shaw

From the moment frontman Ian Astbury walked onto the stage of the O2 Academy dressed from head-to-toe in black, topped off by his infamous darkened sunglasses, he had control of the audience.

With his co-founding band member Billy Duffy providing his trademark windmills to the left on electric guitar, Damon Fox on keys and backed up by Grant Fitzpatrick on bass and John Tempesta on drums to provide a flawless rhythm section, that control was used to elevate the temperature of the audience at will.

The band played a setlist littered with hits from their 10 studio albums, focusing on the centrepiece of their 1989 Sonic Temple, which turns 30 years old this year and provided the initial spark for the tour.

Starting with the opening track from Sonic Temple, Sun King, followed shortly after by their highly commended Fire Woman, the 3,000-plus leather jackets looking up at the stage and down from the surrounding balconies shook the room as a fast, hard-hitting start just did not run out of gas.

The Cult at Birmingham's O2 Institute. Pictures by: Andy Shaw

While the venue was bursting, to the point where Astbury himself drew attention to the fact and noted maybe it was a little 'naughty' for the few with limited views, this didn't take anything away from an impressive performance from an outfit that looked like they were taking advantage of their first break-through performance.

If a group can emulate their studio sound live, you know you're in for a good ride, and it would be wrong to say The Cult didn't surpass their unique studio sound in the flesh.

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While Astbury looks in the best shape he has done for years, this was further supported by a truly outstanding vocal performance.

The Cult at Birmingham's O2 Institute. Pictures by: Andy Shaw

Hitting every note and bellowing his voice to each corner of the arena, the frontman donned his beloved tambourine and even some tribal shakers throughout the night.

Performing songs such as Soul Asylum, which had not seen the light of a tour since its release in 1989, a welcome addition to the band also saw a quartet perform for the first time in a tour with The Cult.

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While the intricacies of the added string instruments may have been lost among the rest of the band during the heavy instrumentals, it added a delicate feel to the beginning of the featured song and one Astbury promised would continue to be heard in upcoming shows.

The Cult at Birmingham's O2 Institute. Pictures by: Andy Shaw

With an expected encore of their biggest hit, She Sells Sanctuary, it really was hard to fault this band that continue to build on the legacy it started in 1983.

Rory Smith

By Rory Smith
Reporter - @rorysmith_star

Trainee news reporter based at the Shropshire Star's Ketley office in Telford.

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