The Cult - House of Blues - 9/8/13
House of Blues
For diehard fans, there may be nothing cooler than a "whole album track by track" gig. Everyone's been doing it, including Roger Waters with The Wall a few years ago and The Breeders with Last Splash more recently. The Cult have been doing it with their current tour, playing their 1987 breakthrough record, Electric, in its entirety.
Last night at the House Of Blues, it was so packed with crazed fans that the Fire Marshall showed up. Luckily, the men in uniform seemed to enjoy the show and didn't shut it down.
It was also HOB Sunset's 20th Anniversary bash, so the British rockers promised a special mega-set, changing up their "Electric" show with additional hits for the occasion, which may have accounted for the extra bodies.
Though music snobs regard Electric, recorded with Rick Rubin, as an AC/DC rip-off record and the band's shameless attempt to cash in on metal's commercial edge at the time, there is no denying the power and appeal of the album. Along with Guns N' Roses' Appetite For Destruction, which came out soon after, it ushered in a darker, bluesier kind of rock, which ultimately helped kill the soul-less flamboyance of the hair metal craze.
From opener "Wild Flower" to sultry stompers like "Peace Dog, "Lil Devil," and "Afrodisiac Jacket," the album is brimming with melodic yet crunchy choruses, endless hooks, and raging riffs. So what if it wasn't entirely original? It rocked. If Duffy was channeling Angus Young on most of the cuts -- or Keith Richards on the hit "Love Removal Machine," an undeniable variation of "Start Me Up" -- he did a damn good job anyway.
In fact, as shown last night, we'd go so far to say he's a guitar god deserving to be ranked up with those two legends. Anchored by the solid drumming of John Tempesta (White Zombie, Testament), Duffy's guitars were relentless on the Electric material and simply gorgeous on selections from their more psychedelic post-punk classic, Love, as well as later era faves.
Frontman Ian Astbury, wearing sunglasses and a warm-looking fur collared coat most of the night, sounded strong and spot-on when he wanted to, but at times if felt like he may be tiring of the full-album night after night choice. He changed up the vocal arrangement and chorus parts on one too many songs, skipping verses and doing jam-like croons that sounded...fine, but lacked the familiar punch one wants to hear while reliving a record that's so classic.
One Electric change we did agree with: they did not play the filler cover of Steppenwolf's "Born to Be Wild," which, even Astbury has admitted, never got anybody's motor running.
The Crowd: Mostly attractive older rock chicks and dudes who appear to be preserving as well as Astbury and Duffy.
Critical Bias: We're a play-it-like-the-record-so-we-can-sing-along kind of gal. Our companion found the change-ups refreshing, but we craved more faithful track renditions.
Random Notebook Dump: Sorry we missed openers, L.A.'s Icarus Line, whom we hear had an epic hate-set start of the night, getting booed and stuff thrown at them. Singer Joe Cardamone told us that the band played no actual songs, just 30 minutes of dissonance in response.
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