The Cult @ Fuzz Club, Athens (GRE)

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Date: 05th June, 2011
Venue: Fuzz Club
Ticket Price: €38 / €45
Promoter: Anosi

In 1993, METALLICA played live for the first time in Greece, being at the top of their career, marking that year as a remarkable one. Many remember that awesome concert but few really refer to the guest stars of that night, THE CULT.

Never heard much of them at that point, except some classics from “Sonic Temple”, like “Fire Woman” or “Sweet Soul Sister”, they managed to attract my attention with their charismatic singer Ian Astbury and the rocking riffs of Billy Duffy. Searching their catalogue later on, I found the complexity of their personality from Punk Rock to Gothic Rock and then to Hard/Heavy Rock with a drastic change of look and attitude. We had to wait 18 years for their first ever headline show in Greece and I was wondering what they could do now, at the twilight of their career. Don’t fool ourselves; it’s very difficult to expect for example another “Electric” album from them.

Despite the economical crisis, the extraordinary expensive ticket and the million of people protesting at Syntagma square, over 1500 people packed the club, many of them just to remember that night of 1993, some of them (+30s) to witness the performance of the (former) sex symbol Astbury and the younger ones that never had the chance and maybe never will have again to watch them live.

I have to say that the club's DJ did one of the worst programs ever, changing from Hard Rock to dance beat sounds. Maybe he had scheduled to visit Mykonos or Ibiza this summer, I don’t know, but he made me crave for THE CULT to start their show; that’s for sure! The first notes of “Rain”, which has a melody that could make Andrew Eldritch (vocals at SISTERS OF MERCY) very jealous, came like a blessing and the band conquered the stage. The sound was great and Ian's voice was in good shape but… hey? Was it really Ian? He looked like Jim Morisson back from the “L.A. Woman” period with some extra pounds on! Call me insane but Billy looked like an older version of David Becham! While I was thinking all these, the band played the new one “Every Man And Woman Is A Star”, followed by “Electric Ocean” and the glam-y rock “Sweet Soul Sister” that Ian destroyed it!

I feared he would get tired soon enough to ruin the rest of the show but with the next three “Horse Nation”, “Saints Are Down” and “Rise” he was there again! Weird... A girl was taking pictures and the security guard forced her with a very gentle way to stop, but Ian stopped the guy and with a nod told her that she could continue to shoot. Sweet, wasn’t it? The die-hard fans seemed to enjoy it very much though most of the crowd knowing the old tunes seems quite confused.

THE CULT gave a little bit more for their older fans playing “Nirvana” and “Phoenix” from the “Love” album, which seemed to be and the band’s favorite (they made also a short tour playing the entire album). And the band decided to show us a short clip about something I couldn’t figure out because of the screams around me like Ian give us a little bit of what you smoke” and “Take off your jacket, I’m getting hot” and other stupid stuff. After the clip, which was interesting but hard to understand (and that’s the point where you the tag “art” to it!),  we were in the middle of their set with a crowd being totally cold and confused.

The next, also new “Embers” was one of the top moments of the show. A long really atmospheric track where Ian was in his best hat night, I think. He left me speechless and very interested for their next work that later Ian mocked about when it’s going to be out “…After the summertime…end of the year…next year…anyway we’re going to have a new record sometime around…”. It was time to dig deep into the past with a track from the old days, when they were called DEATH CULT. The beautiful melodies of “Spiritwalker” filled the club and Ian gave another great performance. Although the quite good sound, Billy seemed quite pissed off, as some technical problems with his guitar made his night rather difficult. “I know there is a demonstration a few blocks from here… there are too many people there …why are you here then? Oh no… fuck the demonstration… stay here…”

After Ian’s pointless statement about the protest at Syntagma square, the band fired up the place with “Lil Devil” and Ian was hardly singing once again. “This is a rock ‘n roll show people…vocals, guitar, drums, bass and another guitar… and that’s our keyboard player… he’s dead… we killed him!” , showing the big skull at the background of the stage! Time for the “Dirty Little Rock Star” and his voice was back again. Oh my God! It’s clear now. He was picking where to sing!

That was clear with the rest three songs that also ended the regular setlist, “Wild Flower”, “She Sells Sanctuary” and “Love Removal Machine”. Although the wild reactions of the crowd that wanted to dance and have fun with these classic tunes, Ian seemed to snob them and hardly sung them. It was more like he pronounced the lyrics. After a short break, they were back on stage and played their ultimate hit of all time “Fire Woman” with the crowd singing higher than Ian (who decided finally to take off his sunglasses)! We had a great time Athens… we hope we will come again in this holy ground… in the land of freedom…” and ended their show with a great performance of “Break On Through” from THE DOORS.

At the end of it, I was left with complex feelings. Was it worth it? Few days later I’d say yes. It was a good Rock ‘n Roll show from a unique band. We had the chance to watch live one of the cult personas of rock, Ian Astbury. What I have to say though is that, if he doesn’t like to sing anymore all those classics from “Electric” and “Sonic Temple”, since their newer style is far away from those albums and he is bored of them, it would be more honest to announce that they don’t want to play these anymore. Of course, you would ask if the fans would go to watch them without their classics tracks. Well ,that’s a question that has an easy answer. No. Surely not all of them, but it would be more honest than watching them performed in such a way.

A guy at the show beside me was screaming Jim Morisson is dead!” and I told him “Yes, but don’t tell it to Ian. The ghost of THE DOORS still haunts him.

THE CULT set list:

01. “Rain”
02. “Every Man And Woman Is A Star”
03. “Electric Ocean”
04. “Sweet Soul Sister”
05. “Horse Nation”
06. “Saints Are Down”
07. “Rise”
08. “Nirvana”
09. “Phoenix”
10. “Embers”
11. “Spiritwalker”
12. “Lil Devil”
13. “Dirty Little Rock Star”
14. “Wild Flower”
15. “She Sells Sanctuary”
16. “Love Removal Machine”
17. “Fire Woman”
18. “Break On Through” (THE DOORS cover)