Published Jul 10, 2016Despite the unrelenting rain that descended upon Ottawa on Saturday (July 9), thousands of umbrella and poncho-equipped fans gathered in front of Bluesfest's co-headlining stage to witness the Cult's first appearance in the Nation's Capital since 1992. Adorned in their emblematic black attire and joined onstage by new keyboardist/guitarist Damon Fox and bassist Grant Fitzpatrick, along with longtime drummer John Tempesta, the duo of Ian Astbury and Billy Duffy entered the stage looking energized and blissful, launching into an energetic but shaky version of "Wild Flower," from 1987's Electric.
As Duffy rang out the shimmering first notes to their 1985 hit "Rain," the crowd roared at the song's suitability, leading Astbury to quip, "You guys look wet, we're right with you." After playing Electric's "Lil' Devil" and a surprising rendition of "Rise" from 2001's Beyond Good and Evil, Astbury gave a speech on the current state of America that concluded with a well-intentioned (due to his history of solidarity with social and civil movements) but off-the-mark "All lives matter" slogan before segueing into "Deeply Ordered Chaos" from their latest album, Hidden City.
Putting great use to the large stage, the now-soaked Astbury struggled with his vocals during "Sweet Soul Sister" and "Fire Woman," from 1989's Sonic Temple, and his band's biggest hit, "She Sells Sanctuary," relying instead on the rapturous crowd and his band members to help round out the songs' choruses. Closing with another track from Electric, "Love Removal Machine," the Cult wrapped up their set 15 minutes early, leaving the audience with a performance that, although far from perfect, was as passion-filled as you'd expect from a band who built their career on raw emotion.