Billy Duffy ACL

The Cult ACL Live Concert Review: An ‘Electric’ Evening

The Cult turn in an electrifying ‘Electric 13’ set at ACL Live.

The Cult’s ACL Live gig started on a tense note. Opening band White Hill’s meandering psych-rock went over like a lead balloon. The crowd wasn’t having it (although a drunk middle-aged dude kept yelling for the female bassist to “take off your top!” Classy.)

After The Cult took the stage, with Wildflower, singer Ian Astbury went on a rant about their previous show in Houston; I read something that made me angry. A review where someone was complaining (assuming a nerdy voice) that “he doesn’t sing like he did on the album”! It’s a live show y’know. Sometimes I forget the words. So f–k Houston!’

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Ian Astbury-post tantrum

That album would be Electric, the band’s 1987 transition from ethereal goth to swaggering cock rock. And hence the tour’s Electric 13 title, the band ripped through the record in its entirety (almost).

Click here to read Albums Revisited: The Cult’s Electric 

An excision was their cover of Born To Be Wild. Astbury said  Rick Rubin made us do it in a pouty tone, making it clear he wasn’t fond of the song.

In its place was fan favorite Zap City, originally recorded for the album Peace, who’s flowery goth sound was aborted in favor of Rubin’s stripped-down approach; it’s been reissued along with Electric as Electric Peace, which you can order on Amazon:

[amazon_image id=”B00CZAYOWI” link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]Electric Peace[/amazon_image][amazon_image id=”B00EKN2BE6″ link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]The Cult: Electric Peace 2LP[/amazon_image]

After hearing Ian’s rant, it struck me funny, because before the band went on, several folks around me were commenting on their annoyance that Ian often doesn’t stick to the script.

I’ve now seen the band 10 times, and it just dawned on me about this idiosyncrasy. It makes singing along to the band’s tunes a solitary affair at times, with his dropping in and out of the mix, and often changing the cadence in the lyrics.

But so what? Every Cult show should feature at least one Astbury blow-up, and he remains a quirky unpredictable presence. At least he had the good humor to mock his rock star temper tantrum later in the set. But it was interesting, how his vocals improved while singing newer material. Perhaps he’s just grown tired with singing older songs, and changes it up to keep it interesting.

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Billy Duffy rocking his Gretsch White Falcon

Guitarist Billy Duffy was all smiles though, ripping through all the requisite solos with ease and aplomb. He seemed energized by the crowd, chuckling while watching a middle age dude lose his goddamn mind up in the rafters.


Standout tracks from the Electric set included King Contrary Man, Electric Ocean and hit Love Removal Machine.

duff red

Afterwards the band played a variety of other material, including tunes off  2012 release Choice of Weapon, Sonic Temple (Fire Woman was a curious exclusion), and Love. She Sells Sanctuary got the crowd into a frenzy. The set concluded with a rousing rendition of Spiritwalker, a tune from the band’s début album Dreamtime.

The band’s rhythm section of drummer John Tempesta and Chris Wyse kept a solid foundation (Wyse also contributed nice backing vocals to fill in the spaces vacated by Astbury).

And for 80’s goth fans, there was an extra treat; Gene Loves Jezebel guitarist James Stevensonassumed rhythm guitar duties.

The crowd left sweaty, beaming and euphorically exhausted. An Electric night indeed.

Electric 13 Set List:


 Peace Dog

Lil’ Devil

Aphrodisiac Jacket

Electric Ocean

Bad Fun

King Contrary Man

Love Removal Machine

Zap City (subbed for Born To Be Wild)


Memphis Hip Shake

2nd Set:


Honey From A Knife

Sweet Soul Sister



The Phoenix


She Sells Sanctuary



Sun King

Spirit Walker


About SLIS

Middle Aged Gen-Exer obsessed with Alternative rock, metal, cult movies, comic books and cable TV.

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