On hiatus since the shamefully overlooked release of 2001's Beyond Good and Evil, the Cult is back on the radar and on tour for the first time since soulful singer Ian Astbury lent his Lizard King impersonation to a revamped version of the Doors (or, as the lawyers insist, the Doors of the 21st Century). Along with Astbury and longtime guitarist Billy Duffy, the current Cult includes bassist Chris Wyse and journeyman skin-pounder John Tempesta (White Zombie, Testament, Exodus, Helmet). The band's Warehouse gig this week, along with other select dates on the 19-city "Return to Wild" tour, reportedly is being recorded and made available on CD immediately following the concert.
"We need to reconnect with our people, our tribe," Duffy intones in a statement issued by the band's publicist to explain the choice to play midsize venues this time out. "We need to be among them. We want this to be as intimate as possible. You can't do that in an airline hangar, mate."
Known originally as the Southern Death Cult, the core of Astbury and Duffy (who once jammed with a young Morrissey and later spent time running with Slaughter & the Dogs) gradually truncated their name to Death Cult and, finally, the Cult. Coming to public attention as goths on 1984's Dreamtime, Astbury and Duffy had fully embraced their inner wolf-children by 1987, venturing boldly into the blues-based hard-rock swagger of AC/DC. The resulting album was the Rick Rubin-produced fan favorite Electric, which landed the band in heavy rotation on American rock radio and resulted in a tour with an unknown opening act called Guns N' Roses. Astbury and Duffy stayed the course to become bona fide rock stars by the time they reached their creative and commercial peak with Sonic Temple in 1989.
With subsequent Cult records doomed to the bargain bin, the band flamed out. Astbury eventually resurfaced as the second coming of Jim Morrison, and Duffy helped front the ridiculously named Cardboard Vampyres with former Alice in Chains guitarist Jerry Cantrell. But now they've gotten their act back together and taken it on the road. While no new music is in the works, the Cult and its fist-waving minions can hardly go wrong with a set list drawing on such barn burners as "She Sells Sanctuary," "Wild Flower," "Love Removal Machine," "Lil' Devil," "Fire Woman" and "Sweet Soul Sister."