Veteran Brit rock outift The Cult made its return to the House of Blues in North Myrtle Beach last Friday night.
And the band did not disappoint.
Touring on the back of the new album, “Choice of Weapon,” lead singer Ian Astbury and guitarist Billy Duffy brought along their intense brand of post-punk/new wave/hard rock along with a unique opening act.
Florida punkers Against Me! hit the stage fronted by the former Tom Gabel, now known as Laura Jane Grace.
Gabel/Grace recently announced to the world through a May interview with Rolling Stone that he/she was in the process of changing sexes, having dealt with gender dysphoria since childhood.
Grace and company hit the stage and were no-nonsense for their roughly 40 minute set of rollicking pop-punk. They played a mix of fan favorites, along with a couple of tracks from the upcoming “Transgender Dysphoria Blues.”
While the floor was nearly full for Against Me!’s set, there were only smaller pockets of fans really into the group. Nevertheless, the group made it a point to, loudly, play favorites including “Thrash Unreal” and “I Was A Teenage Anarchist.”
As an aside, semi-new drummer Jay Weinberg was spot-on and would make his dad Max Weinberg (long-time Bruce Springsteen and Conan O’Brien drummer) proud.
While waiting for roadies to get everything ready for The Cult to hit the stage, the floor and areas surrounding the bars were nearly packed and ready for action.
After a very atmospheric and, of course, Native American-accented soundtrack piece played in the background as the house lights went dark. Astbury, Duffy, bassist Chris Wyse, drummer John Tempesta and touring guitarist Mike Dimkich hit the stage with long-time crowd fave “Li’l Devil” from 1987’s “Electric.”
As with the entire course of the hour-and-a-half set, it was a healthy mix of new songs with the standards that have made Astbury and Duffy legend among those who really know and appreciate rock ‘n’ roll.
Launching directly into the killer new cut “Honey from a Knife,” the group was tight and kept the crowd engaged with the very memorable, and singable, chorus of “we got the drugs, we got the drugs, we got the drugs in here.”
Next up was “Rain,” the staple from the group’s 1985 album “Love.” It was here that Astbury came into form and it was apparent the band was enthused, tight and not just phoning in the performance or resting on their laurels. His voice was spot-on and unlike other rockers who take it easy, especially when they hit Myrtle Beach, Astbury made sure to hit every note.
Other members of the outfit were also on their game and it showed through the entire night.
Duffy played hard, played tight and played Pete Townsend-esque windmills on his oversized, white Gretsch for the majority of the set. Almost effortlessly he plowed through some of the best-known licks in hard rock and kept the guitar buffs engaged with his technique.
A long-time metal drummer who served time with Rob Zombie, Testament and Exodus, Tempesta was strong throughout the show.
Bassist Wyse, formerly of Ozzy Osbourne’s backing band, was a dual threat, keeping the low end tight and providing backing vocals for Astbury.
In order, the band worked it’s way through “Lucifer,” “Nirvana,” “Embers,” and the classic “Fire Woman.”
It was after the last song, Astbury really started chatting it up.
With a fur tufted jacket and wearing the requisite black shades, it was clear he was in a very talkative and jovial mood and he let the crowd know it.
Astbury also showed the crowd his appreciation for the energy they were feeding the band as compared to the crowd a few nights before at the Fillmore in Silver Springs, Md. Except for the “people wearing Depends” in the loge section that lines the top of the House of Blues, as the singer described them.
After new song “The Wolf,” the HOB crowd sang in unison for “Wild Flower” and the lead single from the new album, “For the Animals.”
Rounding out the set were “The Phoenix,” the very strong cut “Rise” from the 2001 album “Beyond Good and Evil” and “She Sells Sanctuary.”
But of course this wasn’t the end. The crowd wanted more and they got it.
But before closing up shop, Astbury had some pointed words for the crowd regarding the monolithic Live Nation which owns the House of Blues. He told everyone to be glad they had a place to see live music, as clubs around the country are dimming their lights due to the giant trying to wring everyone dry for an extra dollar.
After this, the band blazed out to play “Horse Nation” from 1991’s “Ceremony” and finished off with their biggest hit, “Love Removal Machine” for the encore.
In the end, a very strong show which left the crowd wanting more.
Not phoning it in, not using backing tapes or electronic wizardry, The Cult was primed and ready to conquer the stage.
It was a night where the “Choice of Weapon” certainly was rock ‘n’ roll.