The city of Angeles has seen many shows, but few feature an odyssey that is the life of a band called The Cult.
A night 40 years in the making, this show was promoted as a celebration of the sonic voyage of this legendary band going back to the beginning when they were known as Death Cult.
The billing adds suggested that the show would feature music from their 1983 eponymous EP. They would migrate from their epic catalog spanning three incarnations of the band: Southern Death Cult to Death Cult, and then The Cult – featuring their first two albums: “Dreamtime” and “Love.”
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Front and centered for this show featured Ian Astbury and Billy Duffy. The guys promote themselves as avoiding metalheads since 1984.
With that in mind, it was ironic that the rumors circulating at the venue quickly turned to reality as the crowd grew at the Theatre at The Ace Hotel. The who’s who of music coolness attended the show. The watercooler chatter was about the band’s evolution à la DEVO. For this band, it had devolved from their goth roots to a post-punk three headed monster.
What was interesting was the diversity of the crowd. All age groups were represented, which would pay dividends to the reaction as this band has had a few lives. There’s their cryptic goth sound, and then there is the epic boombastic GNR style stadium bone crushing sound they can put out on a dime.
Before the main event, Cold Cave was there to warm up the crowd, and did they. Like a scene out of some kick-ass music video – as the lights dimmed, Cold Cave took the stage and owned it. The L.A.-based synth-power-pop band was a good fit for the eclectic crowd.
Being no stranger to the L.A. music scene, lead singer Wesley Eisold looked at ease on stage in front of this animated crowd.
With a smirk and attitude, Eisold also took concertgoers through a musical journey of his own. Best way to describe their set was comparing them to… Sisters of Mercy!
Being they were openers, this was obviously going to be an abbreviated set. With a darker waves overtone, Eisold entertained the crowd with “Prayer from Nowhere,” ”Glory,” “People Are Poison,” and “Confetti” before he took a gasp for air.
With an appreciation for their effort, the crowd was engaged and cheered to a few other favorites, “Underworld USA,” “The Great Pan is Dead,” and “Villains of the Moon.”
As he thanked the crowd for their hospitality, they closed out the set with a amped up delivery of “Promised Land.” With that, the crowd cheered and cheered even more as they watched the stage crew get us all ready for Death Cult.
After a short intermission, the lights dimmed again, the look of an eerie night on the streets of L.A. was the vibe. The fog and light show took effect. You would think all that was missing were the L.A. vamps, that’s how cool that stage looked.
Leaving no more room for gossip, innuendo or conjecture, Death Cult took the stage. It only took a second for Ian Astbury to appease the sonic gods with his vocals, and Billy Duffy was a guitar hero come to life.
The crowd welcomed them with open rms to “83rd Dream,” “Christians,” then “Gods Zoo” before Astbury took a breath, which in itself was impressive.
He thanked all for attending and acknowledged the hardcore followers, then jumped into “Brothers Grim.”
No disrespect to Demode, KMFDM, Lords of Acid, or My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult, but nobody looks cooler in black leather than this band. Astbury was in legit goth mode.
Fans just loved how they stood on stage and the way Duffy moved his guitar made the crowd explode in vocal ecstasy. Astbury, that dude must have made a deal with some underworld resident because he looked fantastic and sounded even better than he looked.
Death Cult plowed away with their hit catalog, with a rhythmic beat they killed with “Ghost Dance,” “Butterflies,” and “A Flower in the Desert.”
Astbury was in full effect, drawing the crowd in to their light of sonic vision, and they launched into another mini-run of hits with that Bauhuas-esque vibe – “Resurrection Joe,” “The Phoenix,” “Horse Nation,” and “Go West!”
It did not seem to matter which iteration of the band was on display, the crowd loved every single song and sang along with every word of each song.
For instance, “Dreamtime,” for no explanation drew a reaction from the crowd that was a high decibel level, and then “Spiritwalker,” before they ended with “Rain.” Everyone at the Ace was giving them an ovation and they did their job as they continued until they reemerged for an encore.
Astbury again thanked everyone and got back to it with “Moya,” before the house erupted to “She Sells Sanctuary.”
What a perfect night of music. I loved the fact in the background as the crowd was starting to trickle out you could hear someone yelling out “Edie, Edie, Edie” … gotta love an L.A. crowd!
One word describes this show best: “unfuckenbelievable!” OK, maybe a few words.