The Cult / Black Rebel Motorcycle Club @ The Factory, St. Louis, MO

Words and photos by Duane Clawson
In the ten-plus years I’ve been covering live music for MTC MAG, I’ve had some interesting experiences, photographing the legendary Cult was interesting to say the least. But I forged ahead, remained calm, and captured the moment.

For 30-plus years, the Cult has remained in constant rotation on classic rock, radio stations. The song that started it all, “Love Removal Machine”, has over 17M listens on Spotify. Punk music was the inspiration lead singer, Ian Astbury and guitarist Billy Duffy, drew from to form the Cult in the early 80's. Their sound continued to evolve until it would eventually become the bridge between hair bands and Seattle grunge. Now that I’ve concluded my history lesson, I’ll get to the review of the show!

While enjoying some local craft beers at my favorite watering hole, I received an email stating I’m approved to photograph the Cult! Whoa, that’s two hours from now and I’m two pints in, I gotta git! I pick up my ticket at the box office minus my photo pass. Behind me I hear, “Duane, Duane”, oh must be someone I know at the show. I turn around to see a familiar imposing figure, a guy I refer to as Ming the Merciless or otherwise known as the Cult’s tour manager and Alice In Chains former tour manager. How I originally met Ming is a whole different story. Ming hands me my photo pass, grins and proceeds to tell me to be very stealthy while photographing the band. Not sure what to make of this statement as I enter the Factory on high alert!

I was first introduced to Black Rebel Motorcycle Club’s music some years ago and I kinda dug it. But after a great album or two I heard no more about them and moved on. With no new music since 2018 and very little on the horizon, I was certainly not expecting much. Boy was I wrong!

By the end of their set opener, “Beat the Devil’s Tattoo”, the band’s three members made it clear they had come to run with the big dogs! Punishing sound and a brilliantly designed light show threw some additional gas on this five-alarm musical fire! A word of caution, BRMC’s light show can be a bit overpowering. If you are not good in this sort of environment, leave the room toward the end of their performance. Judging by the lines at the band’s merch table, BRMC had gained a new legion of fans in St. Louis!

An extended 40-minute stage changeover gave me time to think over Ming’s comment, “be very stealthy”. I would soon find out the meaning of his statement. From the opening notes of “Rise” to the closing notes of song  number three, “Automatic Blues”, Ian Astbury appeared laser focused on my camera lens. His gaze was unnerving, feeling this, I lowered my camera several times throughout my 15 minutes of shooting this show. Minus the weirdness of this interaction, the music and Astbury’s voice were sounding great!

My unspoken communication with Mr. Astbury was out of the ordinary, but the spoken dialogue, with the audience, between songs was a complete vibe killer. Calling out attendees for leaving early, only to have them return a couple of songs later. But Astbury did thank them for returning. He also noted the space between the seats was distracting and sensed there was a disconnect. There also was the hard to ignore gap onstage between Duffy and Astbury, for that matter the whole band seemed unusually spread out.

Still the Cult did manage to salvage the night by dusting off their classic hits, “Fire Woman”, “Love Removal Machine”, and “Edie”. They also threw a new song in the mix, “Give Me Mercy” from their upcoming album release, Under the Midnight Sun, due out October 7th. This song is pure classic Cult! As a longtime fan, I find myself torn between wanting to love the Cult live but wishing the delivery would have been a bit smoother. A big thanks to the Cult for allowing MTC MAG to be in the house! And thanks to The Factory for being a very accommodating host!

Photos of the show are below:

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
The Cult
Contributed by Duane Clawson
The Cult / Black Rebel Motorcycle Club @ The Factory, St. Louis, MO The Cult / Black Rebel Motorcycle Club @ The Factory, St. Louis, MO Reviewed by Scott Rowe, Editor on July 13, 2022 Rating: 5
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