Many thanks to Marcus Carcuss (13 Tombs) for his contribution to itsaxxxxthing.
Hopefully the first of many.
Take it away Marcus
First of all – I was looking forward to this gig a great deal... between about 1986 and 1991 I had seen The Cult three times and The Mission eleven (six of them following them around the Scottish highlands and islands), for a long period of my younger days they were the soundtrack to my life alongside The Damned, Motorhead and The Sisters Of Mercy. Most of the pivotal times in my life can be tied in to roughly when one of their albums came out or to when I saw certain gigs, some I can trot out the dates for even now like some strange Rain Man figure, “The Electric Tour - Edinburgh Playhouse March 5th 1987, The Cult and Gaye Bykers On Acid”, “World Crusade Tour - Edinburgh Coasters November 6th 1986, The Mission and The Rose Of Avalanche”.
However, in the run up to the gig there were a few wee niggly things that preyed heavily on my mind and tried to nip away at the nostalgic expectations I had – firstly, the gig was downsized from the Newcastle Metro Arena which made me worry that not everybody shared my fond memories of my teenage idols, secondly, I always have a fear that when you haven’t seen a band for a whole that they will have totally “lost it” (which makes you think that they never were that great in the first place) and thirdly... and most importantly, Killing Joke pulling out from the tour as a result of some nonsense spouted on Facebook by somebody pretending to be Jaz Coleman was a total pisser. Having seen KJ a few times over the years (usually when there is a war on... strangely enough)I was convinced that losing such a formidable live act would affect attendance and may very well lead to it all being cancelled.
Luckily these wee niggly naggly thoughts would not bear fruit and on the Tuesday evening after a quick nose round some shops in Newcastle city centre, where I bought a crucifix (Goth as fuck) myself, my beloved other half and my good friend Rab were sat in a pub over the road from the O2 Academy having a few much needed beers (when in Newcastle do you ask for “Newcastle Brown Ale” or just “Brown Ale” ?) awaiting the arrival of our friends from the local area. I “borrowed” a poster from the pub wall for a local Ramones tribute (The Rawmones) as it had a cool piece of artwork on it, met our friends, discussed previous Cult and Mission gigs, had a few more beers and headed over to the gig.
Featuring three quarters of the original line up, The Mission hit the ground running. The haircuts may be shorter (or in Craig Adams case non existent), the horrendous Paisley shirts and dodgy blouses may have vanished but the powerful songs were definitely still there and hammered home as good as they always were. There may have been a bit of drinking going down as in days gone by, Wayne Hussey was definitely having the odd snifter from a bottle that may or not have been Blue Nun (as it usually used to be) but this added to the performance – if you want to hear pristine versions of the songs stay at home and listen to the records, The Mission were never about playing the songs as they appeared on vinyl (remember that ?), they were all about having a good time and getting carried along in the moment, something that still held true. The highlight for me (and quite a few others in the crowd) was a totally awe inspiring rendition of “Tower OF Strength”, complete with people on shoulders doing that “spidery finger Goth dance” that people who followed bands around the country always seemed to do.
Definitely up there with some of the best times I have seen them, they played songs from their entire back catalogue, and as they didn’t have a new album to promote they didn’t have to play any unfamiliar new ones, thus keeping the momentum going.
Before the headliners took to the stage a quick discussion was held with my companions and we agreed that The Cult would have to “go some” to match the openers, this they most certainly did... Gone were the huge walls of Marshall amps and American accents that they embraced in the late 1980s and in their place was a band who had realised that the phoniness that a lot of bands from that time felt was necessary had definitely seen it’s day.
For the first time in decades they acknowledged their Goth Rock past, playing “Spirit Walker” from their ‘Dreamtime’ debut and even “Horse Nation” (originally recorded when they were Death Cult). Mixing the more psychedelic songs from the “Love” era, the out and out AC/DC derived ones from “Electric” and new songs from this years excellent “Choice Of Weapon” album in a seamless manner, where in the past some songs from various eras could grate together when played live. It now seemed as if The Cult were no longer self conscious about what made them The Cult... almost as if they had come of age and realised everything they had done made them the band they are today.
By the end of their set I was at the front of the stage for a rousing version of “She Sells Sanctuary” - one of the good things about seeing bands who have been around for a long time is that it easier to get down the front without being knocked around in a sweaty mosh pit. Maybe I wasn’t pogoing as high as I used to, mind you Ian Astbury doesn’t jump around like he used to either but I definitely felt the rush that I felt in my tender teenage years... and that is something that doesn’t happen too often.
As their tour shirts said back in 1987 on the “Electric” tour – “sleep by day, boogie by night, rockers by choice... CULT CHILDREN !”. Amen to that.