I’m not accustomed to long lines that wrap around the Variety Playhouse like opening day at Six Flags, especially when it’s almost 7:30 and the doors opened at 7:00. I’m also not accustomed to a security pat down upon entering the venue, but I must admit that I enjoyed it. At least I was in the correct line this week – the ordinary Joe line, not the VIP line in error. Actually I felt lucky to be attending this show. It sold out in a heartbeat, much to my disappointment when I attempted to buy a ticket for The Cult when I was at the Mark Farner concert. Then after I posted an inquiry to the Variety Facebook page, a nice person responded that a limited number of tickets were just released. By dumb luck I was enjoying lunch at the Vortex a block away when I saw that post, so I rushed to the box office and latched onto two tickets.
The opening act was Holy White Hounds, the biggest thing from Des Moines since Slipknot. They put out a very enjoyable high energy 30-minute set, including their single Switchblade from soon to be released “Sparkle Sparkle”. HWH are Brenton Dean (vocals/guitar), Ambrose Lupercal (bass), Seth Luloff (drums), and James Manson (guitar). Dean is a charismatic front man who loves to engage the crowd with sarcastic humor. They produce a sound with punk-grunge-indie pop-garage influences and have more hooks than a waiting room at a rhinoplasty clinic. They enjoy their craft and are so un-jaded by the music biz that they even talk with the fans between sets, sell T shirts, and pose for pictures. I hope they continue and become even bigger than Slipknot. Check them out on YouTube.
Then came what seemed to be the world’s longest intermission. I was so bored that I went to the restroom twice and learned how to play a word bubble game (thanks Gene). The Cult entered the stage at 9:30 to a crescendo of recorded music and the crowd suddenly came to life. They opened with Wild Flower from the “Electric” album and burned through a 16-song 90-minute set that should have satisfied any Cult fan, including five selections from their 2016 release “Hidden City”.
The last time I saw Ian Astbury perform was in 2003 when he was channeling Jim Morrison as a member of the Doors of the 21st Century. His voice was fantastic then, as it was at this show, and Ian is still full of rock energy. However Billy Duffy on guitar steals the show with white hot licks, while he incites the crazies in the pit from the edge of the stage. By the time they got to Sweet Soul Sister, proceeding to the encores and Love Removal Machine, even the more laid back people in the mezzanine were on their feet.
There was something for everyone at this show and I like what I heard from “Hidden City”, and from “Sparkle Sparkle” too. New music is alive and well.
Until the next concert, it’s time for my boot heels to be wanderin’.