Review: The Cult at The Fillmore

The real rock stars and rock band of our time is The Cult. While Guns ‘N Roses is gearing up for their reunion tour, The Cult has been going strong for 20+ years even employing Guns ‘N Roses drummer Matt Sorum throughout the years. If you missed the intimate show Sunday night, you missed a good one. And oh yeah, the underrated The Cult is opening up for Guns ‘N Roses in Mexico in April, but it should be the other way around.

The concert stated off with the enthusiastic and rocking opening rock-alt band Holy White Hounds from Des Moines, Iowa. They have a new hit out called “Switchblade,” which they played last in their set and the crowd loved it. It is heavy on guitar riffs and rocks out. Their album is produced by Brandon Darner, who also produces Imagine Dragons. I briefly caught up with their guitarist James Manson, who has awesome green hair, who shared they are loving touring with The Cult. The band members are best friends, which also includes Ambrose Lupercal playing bass and Seth Luloff playing the drums. Their manager and the radio playing their song “Switchblade” got them the gig opening for The Cult. The lead singer, Brenton Dean, gratefully thanked the crowd for the appreciative applause, “I know we are what is standing between you and seeing The Cult and we appreciative your warm reception!” They have a bright future!

In between sets, an audience member shared how he loves hearing the well-known songs an artist is associated with and The Cult did not disappoint.  Another audience member opined that The Cult sound better than they did 20 years ago. Talk about fine wine!


The Cult bounded on stage through the back stage curtain with “Wildflower” to kick off the blistering show, touring in support of their 10th studio album Hidden City. The simplistic stage set had no visual imagery on a screen behind the band like last time they played The Fillmore in 2013. The focus purely was on the music and the artists on stage.

The only remaining original members of The Cult is lead singer Ian Astbury and lead guitarist Billy Duffy, who arguably ranks as one of the best guitarists of our time. Joining The Cult on stage was their long time drummer John Tempesta – previously of White Zombie, Australian bassist Grant Fitzpatrick, and keyboardist and guitarist Damon Fox previously of heavy metal band Stormtrooper and horror movie genres.

Duffy straddled the stage on the right while Astbury commanded center stage. Fitzpatrick stood to the left of Astbury, Fox drifted behind Fitzpatrick for the keyboards and then to the right of him for guitar and Tempesta banged on the drums behind Astbury. At first appearance Fox easily could be confused for Astbury with his long black hair, black hat and similar fashion style. He is mesmerizing to watch! Astbury even joked about Fox’s hat.

 Ian Astbury, lead singer and drummer John Tempesta. Photo by Lindsay Sparks.
Ian Astbury, lead singer and drummer John Tempesta. Photo by Lindsay Sparks.

Astbury is the quintessential rock star who has a commanding stage presence, with his Adonis looks, long black locks, his rock star glasses, all black ensemble (black shirt, black jacket, black pants), his charisma and his black boots.  He strutted and prowled upon the stage like a tiger, his voice sounded strong, tapping his tambourine ferociously, throwing his signature tambourines around on stage and into the crowd. A funny moment occurred when Astbury threw the tambourine and it ended up between the bassist’s legs making him tiptoe over to retrieve it. Astbury philosophized on stage and shared he loves books and those who love books. When Astbury sings you see the mist explode from his mouth. He takes his music seriously and puts his whole weight into it. His voice shined on “Fire Woman” as the he ferocious rock star howled the lyrics and the crowd yelled and fist-pumped along.

Lead guitarist Billy Duffy. Photo by Lindsay Sparks.
Lead guitarist Billy Duffy. Photo by Lindsay Sparks.

Duffy had his signature beautiful guitars strung low and he sounded tight as always. His white signature Gretsch Falcon Les Paul guitar gleamed under the lights. He didn’t interact much with Astbury physically on stage, but they musically complemented each other perfectly as if they can read each other telepathically. Duffy clearly enjoyed the show and moved rhythmically with the music. On “Fire Woman” he blazed the guitar with his playing and electrified the crowd.

Tempesta powered through the set with precision with his pulsating beats especially on “Sweet Soul Sister.” He carefully gauges Astbury’s singing and Duffy’s playing and responds to their cues. Fitzpatrick jammed on his bass providing soul to the songs especially on “Rain.” Fox showcased his multi-instrumentalist prowess on the keyboards and guitar, even running his guitar chords up and down the mike stand.

The new music sounds great too and cleanly fits with The Cult’s well-known songs.  They perfectly blended in the songs from the new album with their hits. The song “Birds of Paradise” employs minor keys and gives a whimsical feeling.

They closed the show with their hard rocking song “G.O.A.T” which Astbury humorously taught the audience is an acronym.

The band thrived on the rapt audience’s participation in this religious experience called The Cult concert. Several times Astbury remarked in amazement, “This is Sunday night!”

Running Time: Two hours and 30 minutes, with an encore.

The Cult played  for one night only on April 11, 2016, at The Fillmore – 8656 Colesville Road, in Silver Spring, MD. For future performances at The Fillmore, check their calendar of events.

Be sure to catch The Cult on their intimate set tour. This is rock in its purest and unadulterated form.

The Cult’s Setlist:
Dark Energy
Horse Nation
Lil’ Devil
Birds of Paradise
Deeply Ordered Chaos
Sweet Soul Sister
Fire Woman
Love Removal Machine

The Cult’s website.

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Marlene Hall
Marlene Hall grew up an army brat and has lived all over the world and in Washington, DC where she was constantly exposed to theater and music. Marlene graduated from the University of Virginia where she wrote for the Cavalier Daily interviewing musicians. Commissioned as an Air Force officer, she served 8 years. She now works as a realtor with eXp Realty. In addition, Marlene dabbles in improvisational comedy and has taken classes at the famed iO Theater in Chicago and the DC Improv. She is very active in the DC charity and social scene and contributes her time to veterans’ organizations Team Rubicon and Team Red, White, and Blue. She also was a supernumerary in the Washington National Opera’s Carmen with opera singer Denyce Graves. She loves the music and theater scene in DC and goes to as many concerts and shows as possible.


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