The Institute, Birmingham
And so to the Institute in Birmingham to see Long Island’s finest, in the company of Daughter Moles and a friend of hers, BOC being friend’s second ever gig. Appearing at the Institute. Birmingham’s approximately fourth biggest venue marks a little bit of how the Cult’s appeal has become more selective. Let’s dispose of the support, Temperance Movement, who are the exact centre of a triangle featuring Free, AC/DC and Bad Company. The singer fulfils the rule that if the singer plays no instrument in a band they are always the most annoying member.
Dead on 9pm the Cult are on to the sounds of the Game of Thrones theme. Time has wrought its ravages on founder due Eric Bloom and Buck Dharma in subtly different ways. Eric appears freeze dried. There’s not a lot of movement or facial expression going on from Eric, a an vibe enhanced by the permanent shades. Buck however has comfortably spread, appearing now a bit like a seventies Elvis if he worked in IT. They’re flanked by rock-steady bassist Danny and newbies Jules on drums and Richie on guitar. Oh Richie. Eric and Buck don’t move around the stage quickly, so Richie fills the gap like some panting Labrador puppy, always with his tongue out and running into the walls. He gives us the guitar between the legs, the guitar up to his mouth, the guitar as rifle. You know he’s not a bad guitarist, but there’s a touch of stadium madness there.
On with the show. Over an hour and a half we got a selection from the dawn of the Cult (Last Days of May) up to some of their most recent albums (Harvest Moon), with a generous helping of the imperial period. It’s the seventies rock show in all its unabashed glory. Songs go on for ten minutes and have several guitar solos. We get the four guitarists in a row rocking line up and lots of nods. If this was a jazz gig they’d be saying ‘Are you taking A or B?’.
The mix is not great at the start, but looking at the ages of the road crew I am guessing we may be keeping them up past their bedtime. There are a few onstage gremlins with mikes in the wrong place. And I swear that they must be the first band where the support sounded louder than the headliners. They warm up considerably, getting louder and tighter as we go through work-outs like Bucks Boogie (10 mins, all guitar solos), Burning for You and Summer of Love (pop/rock masterpieces) and…oh, let’s not even do a song we’ll just let Buck solo solo onstage for what seems like half-an-hour.
The last half-an-hour is solid gold all the way. ETI, Godzilla and without any fanfare Reaper. Encores are ‘we’re amusing ourselves with a deep cut’ In Thee and rousing fare thee well Hot Rails To Hell. All delivered excellently, with a respect for an audience who have paid the money to hear the hits. Yes hearing Astronomy, RU Ready to Rock or Fire of Unknown Origin would have been great as well, but there was enough here to send any first-time or long-time cultist home happy.
Well the core is sixty-somethings (so on the bright side sighlines are better as there’s more short uns) with denim and leather as core values. Plenty of youngers too, and noticably more mixed than, according to daughter, King Crimson or Deep Purple.
It made me think..
Poor old Temperance Movement. While acts like BOC, Purple, Blackmore, ZZ Top, Crimson are still treading the boards there’s not much psychic space left. They should come back in 20 years when there’s a bit more headroom.