From the moment frontman Ian Astbury said “Let’s show these Americans how to rock and roll,” you could feel the crowd starting to pull away. Whatever frenzied goodwill he and the rest of The Cult generated seemed to evaporate with each anti-American slip of the tongue and, believe me, there were plenty of ill-advised pot shots to go around. One could say that his remarks were in bad taste, but judging from the attendees’ overall lack of enthusiasm; I can’t really blame him for trying to ignite their nationalistic fire.
Opening with a fiery rendition of “Lil’ Devil,” The Cult immediately let people know that they’re still a force to be reckoned with in the rock universe. Astbury’s soulfully operatic vocal styling hasn’t lost one iota of its passion and lead guitarist Billy Duffy tears through the fretboard as if the guitar said that his mother wears army boots. Every power chord more torrential than the last, every solo navigated with the utmost attention to detail. The only thing absent was a little Mac and Jack’s Wonder Potion to get the crowd’s energy levels peaking (That’s my only Michael Jackson reference, I promise), because then the band would’ve had something palpable to feed off of.
About halfway through the set, Astbury began to imitate the comatose audience members by standing still with his arms folded to the side to signal the apex of his consternation. How they managed to put together 70 minutes of exuberant hard rock is a mystery to me, because it just didn’t have the anarchic vibe usually present at shows of this nature. Had it been 1988, things may have turned out differently, but I guess we’ll never know.
Highlights of the evening include an exquisite “Edie (Ciao Baby),” a boisterous “Fire Woman” and an immaculate one-two punch of “Love Removal Machine” and “She Sells Sanctuary” to cap off a perfect summer evening.
Usually, you need to be Christian Bale in “The Machinist” just to maneuver your way through the mess, but not on this night. On this night, the gaps were just begging to be filled by fans who know a killer rock show when they see one. Those who were there should cherish it, because, if Friday’s tepid overtone meant anything, The Cult might never set foot in Lockport again.