The Cult Close Trek On Spiritual Note

U.S. outing was band's first in four years; album and world tour to follow.

LOS ANGELES — As reunited rockers the Cult closed their U.S.

tour Wednesday night, singer Ian Astbury paid tribute to the power of

his band's music.

"You know, as adults we think too much," Astbury proclaimed from the

stage of the House of Blues, halfway through the Cult's set. "This is

not entertainment, this is not nostalgia, this is your wake-up call to

being alive!"

With that announcement, Astbury and the band — original Cult guitarist

Billy Duffy, ex-Porno for Pyros bassist Martyn LeNoble, ex–Guns n' Roses

and former Cult drummer Matt Sorum and rhythm guitarist Mike Bimkich

— launched into a powerful rendition of "Wildflower"

(RealAudio

excerpt), from the Cult's Electric (1985).

The show, the last of a seven-night string of sold-out dates at the

Sunset Strip venue, served as the finale for the band's first tour in

more than four years.

"I was so excited that this was even happening," said former Guns n'

Roses guitarist Slash (born Saul Hudson), whose latest band, Slash's

Snakepit, has a record due in fall 2000.

"When Matt [Sorum] told me, I was so excited. It's like the old guard is

coming back to be the new guard," said Slash, who recalled opening for

the Cult during Guns n' Roses' early days. Slash and Sorum later became

bandmates when Sorum replaced original GNR drummer Steve Adler in 1990.

Slash flashed a big smile as he said, "The Cult is the new arsenal."

Since the Cult broke up in early 1995, Astbury formed the band Holy

Barbarians and recorded a solo record, while Duffy played with Miles

Hunt's Vent 414 and worked on a solo record. But those ventures were not

fulfilling enough for the two.

"I began to see this gaping hole, which wasn't being fulfilled by doing

a solo record, and I just really missed working with Billy and playing

with Billy and being a part of the Cult and playing those songs," Astbury

said prior to the tour's launch.

Opening Wednesday's show without saying a word to the jam-packed house,

the band immediately kicked into "Lil' Devil"

(RealAudio

excerpt), from Love (1985). Banging a tambourine, shaking

his head and wearing a sheer black sweater, Astbury looked as if he'd

never left the stage. Duffy shined on such faves as "Rain," "The Phoenix"

and "Fire Woman," the Cult's 1989 breakthrough hit off Sonic Temple.

Even the jaded Los Angeles crowd couldn't help feeling the band's

enthusiasm. "I think the Cult is going to make the biggest comeback of

any band in history!" proclaimed Jay Davis, manager of the popular local

hangout the Whisky Bar. "Real rock is back, and I like rock 'n' roll!"

"I'm having a spiritual epiphany," claimed another show-goer, Andy Wilson,

answering Astbury's question to the audience, "Are you getting spiritual?"

during "Sweet Soul Sister."

The Cult, known for combining spiritual and mystical lyrics with hard rock,

focused mainly on early material. They surprised the crowd with such old

favorites as "Revolution," "She Sells Sanctuary" and the show-closing

"Love Removal Machine" (RealAudio

excerpt).

The hits kept coming with an emotional rendition of "Edie (Ciao Baby),"

their 1989 hit about the late Andy Warhol protégé Edie

Sedgewick, and a hard-rocking version of "Ceremony," off the 1991 album

of the same name. Completing the set were "Sun King," "New York City"

and "Peace Dog."

Although the band did not debut any new material, Astbury has said that

after this tour the Cult will record another album and embark on a world

tour. The frontman said the new Cult sound will be "a lot of riff-driven,

high-energy rock 'n' roll."