Review by Val Tapia
Photos by Fred Kuhlman
Venue: Wild Horse Pass, Gila River Resort & Casino (https://wildhorsepass.com/)
Date: October 26th, 2023
Tour: Under The Midnight Sun
When I think of The Cult, I automatically think of bands like The Smiths and The Cure, and Peter Murphy as well. The one thing that the aforementioned artists had in common was that all of them were played on both college and mainstream rock radio during the late 1980s.
Not only that, but you could see The Cult on MTV’s 120 Minutes and Headbanger’s Ball, respectively. Only a handful of bands hold that distinction— Living Colour, King’s X, and Red Hot Chili Peppers are just a few examples (from the 80s) I can think of off the top of my head.
However, at its core, The Cult arguably cut its teeth on 70s hard rock yet made sure to give their music a contemporary spin for the times. To that end, they succeeded admirably. Ultimately, that’s probably why most of their material still holds up after four decades. In other words, The Cult drew from many influences and came up with a sound that was ultimately its own.
I’ve only seen The Cult once prior to the show at Wild Horse Pass Casino on Thur. Oct. 26. It was the Sonic Temple tour in Jan. 1990 at ASU Activity Center –at the absolute height of the band’s career. For those who care, Bonham and Dangerous Toys opened the show.
Fast forward 33 years, and The Cult is still here, albeit another incarnation of the band. Along with founding members and primary songwriters Ian Astbury and Billy Duffy, the current lineup includes bassist Charlie Jones, drummer John Tempesta, and keyboardist Mike Mangan.
Kicking off the sold-out, 16-song show with Rise (from 2001’s Beyond Good and Evil), it got things off to a solid start, followed by Sun King (from 1989’s Sonic Temple) and obscure Electric cut, King Contrary Man.
Speaking of 1987’s Electric, no less than five songs were played from that album— to the audience’s delight I should add. But to the band’s credit, they weren’t interested in just churning out the past.
Prior to new song Vendetta X, Astbury lightheartedly scolded the fans to “do your fuckin’ homework” and “buy our latest album Under The Midnight Sun“. Then from there, we get another deep cut, this time from 1985’s Love called– appropriately– The Phoenix.
Of course, Wild Flower always gets the crowd going without fail. Then we get one more new song from …Midnight Sun called Mirror. The main set of the 80-minute show concluded with Rain, Spiritwalker, and the band’s “trademark” song, She Sells Sanctuary.
Interestingly, there was a point in the show where Astbury stated that this would be the “last time” this set list will be played. Next year, they’ll be playing “an entirely new set”. I noticed a few confused looks on people’s faces around me. I guess time will tell.
For the encore, Resurrection Joe (from their 1984 debut album, Dreamtime) was added to the set-in recent shows for reportedly the first time since 1986. And of course, they can’t forget Love Removal Machine. They exited the stage letting fans know that “we will never phone it in onstage” to huge applause.
The final verdict? I’ll give it a solid 3.5 out of five stars— a good time overall.
Photos by Fred Kuhlman 2023, All Rights Reserved
King Contrary Man
Sweet Soul Sister
She Sells Sanctuary
Love Removal Machine