The Cult/Aqua Nebula Oscillator - Wolverhampton, Civic Hall - 8th October 2009 Print E-mail
Written by Johnny H   
Sunday, 18 October 2009 12:44


Love_LiveIf you bring together two of my all-time favourite things in one place (you know, like Bacon and Cheese, or Leg World and a box of Kleenex) you'd be right to think I'd get just that little bit excited.


The Cult really are one of my all time favourite UK rock bands, and Wolverhampton Civic really is one of my all time favourite venues having never seen a duff gig there. 


So what could be better than a 'Love Live' event, with the band's recently re-released second album (review can be read here) being played in its entirety for the first time ever?


Well, quite a few things actually, and here's why.


Let's start with the support band for the UK leg of this tour, the rather quirkily named Aqua Nebula Oscillator. Sadly, they were not some Scando Stoner Pop band that had been through a musical blender, but were in fact something coined Black Acid Rock by a certain Ian Astbury. So pack a venue full of people raised on the arena rock sounds of latter day Cult and then throw a theremin driven bunch of art house hippies at them for thirty odd minutes and I bet you can guess what happened. Yup, you're right, fuck all, faint applause followed each of the band's musical trips (which were not so much songs, as journeys), and for a band who are so obviously into their craft you cannot help but feel sorry for them, when people around me are openly scratching their heads and yawning.


Ian_2To follow that with a lesson in high energy rock n roll really should have been a piece of cake for the masters of that shit right?


Well, sadly no, it may have been the impact of the support band's set or the arrival of a half wolf, half bird watcher looking Ian Astbury, but the usually rebel rousing sound of Love's opening track 'Nirvana' was flatter than a witch's proverbials. Billy Duffy may have the old spiky top haircut back and his faithful white Gretsch guitar strapped on, but there really was something missing during the following album tracks (as I stated previously, all played in sequence), and the band looked like they'd rather be anywhere but Wolverhampton at that moment in time. 

Things did pick up with a very Stooges sounding 'Phoenix' and a thrusting 'Hollow Man', but prior to this did we really need Bill Od, sorry Ian Astbury belching into the mic at the end of the majestic 'Love'?, and telling everyone he was still a punk whilst everyone else down the front looked like bankers...Yeah OK Ian.


Billy_1'Revolution' and 'She Sells Sanctuary' kick started the guys from Thread Needle Street down the front into some minor action, but then 'Black Angel' crawled out of its gothic cage on all fours and sent everyone back to reading their texts (I kid you not), and you have to ponder that that track, however grand it sounded, was never going to have the first half of the set ending to fever pitch.


So, after some Indian Trance dance music The Cult were very quickly back and Billy Duffy had switched his Gretsch for the knee height Les Paul of the band's arena rock years, and we were full on into 'Electric Ocean', 'Wild Flower' and 'Sun King'. But yet again I couldn't help but think there was something missing.


Then as if by magic we got two tracks from The Cult's more recent back catalogue in the shape of 'Rise' and 'Rock Star' and the band were suddenly transformed into a whole new throbbing rock n roll machine, and I'm not afraid to admit at that point I wished they'd just concentrated on those two albums in isolation if that was the commitment they garnered. Fantastic stuff indeed, and Pure Cult.


Finishing off with 'Fire Woman' and 'Love Removal Machine' I suddenly started to think that maybe this was a set that simply needed to be mixed up a bit, with maybe 'Love' played in-between some book ended hits (which is exactly what Metallica did when they chose to play 'Master Of Puppets' in its entirety live), I mean The Cult has had plenty of those hit single things to choose from right, and the newer stuff certainly seemed to spark some life back into the old dogs.


Ian Astbury and Billy Duffy may still walk on water in my eyes (just), but I left the gig feeling that it was a glorious opportunity missed, and I would have to file this under 'disappointing', a bit like Coverdale and Page, another two of my musical fave things that all went a bit pear shaped when you put them together.