The lights dim to a packed Barrowlands ballroom and a cheer rises as veteran post-punk meets goth hard rock act The Cult take to the stage. The audience know what they’re here to see. Many of them have, no doubt, seen it before. Ian Astbury and co know what the crowd is here to see, too; The Cult are back with a new album, Hidden City, and it’s as good an excuse as any for a run through the band’s three-decade spanning back catalogue.
Kicking things off with Dark Energy, the opening track from Hidden City, it’s clear that there’s a lack of recognition from the crowd. That initial burst of excitement abates, and the audience seems to temporarily disengage from the performance. It’s followed by Rain, from 1985’s Love, and the the fans come alive again, jumping, clapping, singing along, dancing wherever there’s space to allow it (and some places where there isn’t).
This stark difference between how the old and new material is received permeates the show’s entirety, at times almost feeling like there’s two different audiences being swapped in and out on the fly. Nostalgia is the order of the day here, hinting at an awareness that, whatever fresh material they produce, The Cult are always going to have to come out and play the likes of post-punk classic She Sells Sanctuary or cock-rock anthem Fire Woman because, well, that’s what the fans want.
It’s a solid, if perhaps a little cursory, performance from the band, coming as it does towards the end of the UK leg of the tour. The typically energetic Astbury shows some signs of struggling to keep up in the final quarter of the show, and guitarist Billy Duffy is fairly workmanlike for the most part, coming to life during the few moments where he’s given the space to fully display his solo skills.
The encore sums up the show quite succinctly. The ballroom erupts into a party at the opening riff of oldie Spiritwalker, followed by new song GOAT being played to a still and near silent audience. Finally, the revelry kicks off again with renewed gusto with the closer, fan favourite Love Removal Machine. They go wild. And while there’s nothing wrong with celebrating a well respected band’s back catalogue of hits and crowd-pleasers, there’s little else on offer here.