By DJ Astrocreep

Poster for Death Cult at Manchester Albert Hall 18 November 2023Two gigs in successive days means another jaunt over to Manchester, this time to the Albert Hall, to catch The Cult, touring as previous incarnation Death Cult and, by and large, playing venues and places they did on their inaugural Death Cult tour in 1983. While quite different musically to the previous night’s shenanigans, a night of rather fantastic post punk and rock should be on the cards…

A single support in experimental rock soloist Lili Refrain was on the cards and her mesmerising form of layering using live loops is a really good intro to the evening. Feeling quite shamanistic in its approach, her music veers along the line of minimalism at times, while never straying too far into the experimental side as to put off too many of the capacity crowd.

She gains more and more applause as the crowd builds further up and is well worth every clap of it, given her obvious talent and ability shown on the stage. Vocals range from sounds to words in multiple languages – I think I detect both Latin and English at times – and the taking of live samples and building layers of sound is done in quite a well worked way. While some of the crowd seem to find it hard going, from a personal point of view it’s an excellent set that I find thoroughly enjoyable.

The Cult @ Manchester Albert Hall 18 November 2023The room is absolutely rammed as the intro track – the ‘Clockwork Orange’ theme – for Death Cult to take the stage booms out from the PA. A loud roar of anticipation breaks out and Ian Astbury, Billy Duffy and co emerge out on to the stage just across from me. ’83rd Dream’ follows straight on and they are absolutely electric, just like the atmosphere, from the very start.

It’s the first sellout of the tour, something both Astbury and Duffy acknowledge, with thanks, during the set. A small mosh pit also kicks off from the first few notes, which continues right the way through the rest of the set.

’83rd Dream’ leads us into a quartet of Death Cult songs, including the likes of ‘Brothers Grimm’, before heading back into a trio of The Cult tracks. ‘Horse Nation’ then leads into a quintet of better known songs from the main era of the band, culminating with ‘Spiritwalker’ and ‘Rain’ to close off the main part of the set.

It has to be commented that Astbury has actually sounded great right the way through the set tonight. While he has made slight changes to the way he approaches some tracks – understandable given he is now into his 60s – he can still hit and hold the notes for a short while, demonstrating one of his best vocal performances I have witnessed across the several times I’ve caught him live.

As they retake the stage for the two song encore, Duffy once more addresses the crowd, thanking everyone for their support. We are in for a treat, too, as they revisit their oldest territory in the form of debut single ‘Moya’ from their very first iteration, The Southern Death Cult, with this being far more post punk than what the average The Cult listener may associate with the band, given their far more rock n roll approach later.

There’s only one song left to play and it’s the obvious one – Astbury and co not finishing on ‘She Sells Sanctuary’ would be akin to Black Sabbath not finishing on ‘Paranoid’: completely unheard of and a massive surprise. It sounds as good as ever and while the set only lasts not too much beyond the hour point, there has been something in the set for fans of all ages of the band.

A superb show, showcasing exactly why The Cult deservedly remain at the forefront of the goth and rock crossover genres.

  • Photo by the author.
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