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Saturday, August 10, 2013

The Cult not quite 'electric' at House of Blues

Posted By on Sat, Aug 10, 2013 at 9:10 AM

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We’ve had enough of bands playing albums in their entirety. Earlier this week, prog rockers Yes played not one, not two, but three albums in their entirety at Cain Park. And last night at House of Blues, Brit alt-rockers the Cult opened their two-hour set by playing their 1987 album Electric in its entirety. Admittedly, it’s the band’s breakthrough album and the one that signified a musical shift from straight-up Goth rock to a compelling blues-metal hybrid. But every song on the album isn’t a winner. While “Wildflower” and “Love Removal Machine” are fist-raising anthems and came off great live, other tracks are forgettable and didn't work so well live. So playing the whole album wasn’t the smartest move.

It didn’t help that singer Ian Astbury had trouble properly delivering the vocals. Astbury is a powerhouse singer whose voice so closely resembles that of Jim Morrison that the remaining members of the Doors once recruited him to fiil in for the deceased frontman. But last night, he sounded flat for most of set. Songs such as “Lil’ Devil” and “Bad Fun” didn’t have the swagger they really needed. Mid-way through the set, Astbury, who would was clad in black from head to toe and wore sunglasses for the entire show, admitted he was just getting warmed up. And he certainly started to sound better after the band took a brief break at the conclusion of Electric and returned to play the soaring “Rain.” But he couldn’t hit the right notes on “Sweet Soul Sister” and sounded best when the song only required that he stay in the lower registers. As a result, tunes like the moody, Nick Cave-like “Embers” were really quite powerful. But that was the exception rather than the norm. It’s too bad Astbury wasn’t more up to the task. The band sounded sharp and the hard-drinking capacity crowd came ready to rock. The guys just didn't give audience members a good reason to let loose.

The psychedelic rock trio White Hills opened with a sloppy set of tunes that were completely unmemorable. Band members were more obsessed with striking a pose — singer-guitarist Dave W. regularly whipped his hair around like he was kind of supermodel posing for a fashion shoot — than playing their respective instruments.

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