The Cult Brings Hidden City Tour To Gramercy Theatre
The Cult Brings Hidden City Tour To Gramercy Theatre 2-17-16
The Cult rolled into town to play a pair of intimate (for them) venues after unleashing their tenth studio album this month. Frontman Ian Astbury explained that Hidden City completes a trilogy of 21st century Cult albums that began in 2007 with Born Into This and continued in 2012 with Choice of Weapon. (He excepted Beyond Good and Evil as that was written more in 98 and 99.) The trilogy represents the evolution of a band being reborn in the post 9/11 world in the context of social media rising and the music industry collapsing. Astbury also mentioned the stock market crash (of 08) along with the backdrop of consumerism and the malaise of people’s spiritual lives in an erratic and frenetic time as factors in the environment that helped spawn the recordings.
Hidden City fits into a body of work that includes back to back masterpieces, Love and Electric (and one could make a strong case for Sonic Temple being a third) in the eighties that tattooed their music onto rock’s skin for all time. Astbury indulged me by sharing a few thoughts on those when I asked him to. Love in 85 grew out of the group’s love of artists like Joy Division, Public Image Limited, and Siouxsie and The Banshees alongside their affinity for psychedelic rock encompassing the kind found on the Nuggets collection to that of artists like The Doors and Hendrix. Electric in 87 stripped down and was inspired by hearing stuff like The Beastie Boys and going to “the maestro” Rick Rubin who was still living in an NYU dorm when the connection was made! With the kick drum turned up, some of Billy Duffy’s most memorable riffs, and not a faded ending (nothing but cold) to be found; Electric remains one of the most perfect and most satisfying rock records. Bob Rock – who produced the more massive follow-up to Electric, Sonic Temple – was back at the helm for the new record, his fifth with the fellas. In The Cult’s post-temple work, Astbury and guitarist Billy Duffy have drawn upon and expanded upon everything that came before. Hidden City captures an elusive balance between the visceral and the cerebral, between the sexy and the sublime, that any fan of the group will appreciate as being – if not a capstone, at least an essential testament to the group’s efforts at creating honest, contemporary work.
Throughout The Cult’s career and from a time before they existed, Bowie has been like the sun for Astbury who played Blackstar ahead of the performance at Gramercy which was followed by one at the Music Hall of Williamsburg two nights later. Hats off to the band for treating NYC area fans to performances in such small spaces. In addition to a taste of Love’s Rain, the performance footage here features the opening track on Hidden City called Dark Energy.