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The Cult, Bo Ningen: Manchester Academy – live reviewThe Cult, Bo Ningen

Manchester Academy

25th October 2013

One of the first bands to emerge out of the ashes of “punk”, The Cult released their (arguably) magnum opus, Electric, back in 1987. It went on to become their first album to achieve platinum status and this year they’ve been celebrating it at sell out shows across the UK. We caught up with then in Manchester. Mike Bennet takes up the story...

Both Kevin Rowland and Van Morrison have sung about it, Rowland had to sing it to attempt to express it, and Van Morrison describes it as the “inarticulate speech of the heart”. An expression of joy, of rage, of lust, of a barely contained something that needs to leave the body. What Bo Ningen think of this, a Japanese four piece based in London, is open to interpretation, but the half hour set they played as support act sounded like one long howl of bored frustration to me, like a very metal Siouxsie and the Banshees with Def Leppard’s drummer playing the guitar. One note and one tone, they at least looked they were having an excellent time. I have never seen the bar at The Academy empty and then refill so quickly in all my years attendance, so if this was going over my head, I wasn’t the only one. Seemingly loved amongst the southern art set, they have worked with Damo Suzuki and Faust, who both know something about using noise and rhythm effectively, it all seemed to me like a bloodless and loveless My Bloody Valentine, another band showing off their emperors new clothes.

The thing about The Cult, their Ronseal rock slightly fading, but still doing its job, is you always know what you’ll get, not always a bad thing, obviously. Touring the Electric album, minus Born To Be Wild for some reason, they come on stage to a quote from the film “Taxi Driver”, the one you’d expect, obviously, and are straight into “Wildflower”, still one of my favourites from the album, now staggeringly 26 years old, and the sound, despite not being anywhere near loud enough, is crystal clear and Ian Astbury, looking exactly like he did 26 years ago, is in very fine voice indeed, the quasi mystical, hallucinogenic, Jim Morrison soaked journey he’s embarked upon since apparently having no detrimental affect at all, at least not on his voice. Motoring through note perfect renditions of songs I’ve known over half my life, desperately trying not to play the spot the riff game, Billy Duffy looking like a misunderstood Swedish first division footballer, it has become a very nice nostalgic evening for the balding 40 something men in prominent attendance, a heartwarming sort of homecoming, occasionally referenced by Astbury, it lacked any edge, danger or volume, but didn’t necessarily miss or need these things.

Now that Rock is in its second stage, and the Stones are both the biggest band in the world in live terms and of pensionable age, there is nothing wrong with loved songs played well, and as they start a second half of songs drawn from their entire career, “Sun King” or “Spirit Walker”, there was something here for everyone whoever loved them, and as we left, content and smiling, it seemed that familiarity doesn’t always breed contempt, and there wasn’t anything wrong with a little given comfort from time to time.


The Cult’s website is here. They’re also on Facebook and Twitter.

Bo Ningen’s website is here. They too are on Facebook and Twitter.

All words by Mike Bennett. This is Mike’s first post for Louder Than War. 

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  1. I saw them at Wolverhampton Civic last week. I’ve been to see hundreds of bands but that was the first time I’ve ever walked out of a gig before the end. The band were really good but Astbury couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket. He was dire.

    • Completely agree. Saw them at the Roundhouse last night: why perform ‘Electric’ when they clearly have no energy or fire to perform it? The band woke up when playing 2013 tracks. Astbury spent half the time with his back to the audience looking at the drummer and his voice was really shot. Hardly any engagement with the audience. A sell out crowd but no show, no real performance. It was like turning up to a rehearsal. I shall remember your glory days at Brixton, etc… The only saving grace was Billy Duffy who was (as always) great.


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