Jim Morrison, Steven Tyler and Marc Bolan were all at the 9:30 club Wednesday night. Or so it seemed. The Cult was onstage, and singer Ian Astbury and guitarist Billy Duffy spent the evening channeling classic rock icons.
During its first, 11-year incarnation, the Cult concocted a passionate, T. Rex meets Poetry 101 sound (anticipating the emotional grunge of groups like Pearl Jam) before disbanding in 1995. Astbury revived the group earlier this year, adding bassist Martyn LeNoble (ex-Porno for Pyros) and drummer Matt Sorum.
Wednesday night an extra guitarist bolstered songs like "Rain," "Peace Dog," "Revolution," "Sun King" and "Fire Woman," all of which evoked the classic rock their titles imply. Duffy's guitar riffs simulated the overdriven blues swagger of Jimmy Page while Astbury's yowls leaned toward Robert Plant. The band tried to sound mid-'80s but looked surprisingly youthful--especially Astbury, eerily resembling Aerosmith's Tyler while imitating Morrison's swagger. What other rocker playing a reunion tour is svelte enough to make a see-through black shirt work with leather pants?
"We're not here for nostalgia," the singer said several times during the evening, though the near-capacity audience didn't seem to care what the purpose was when Duffy kicked into the arena rock swirl of the set-closing "She Sells Sanctuary." By that time all the influences the English band had evoked added up to an equation that reads like this: The Cult = Dull.