REVIEW gig Old Subbacultcha Old Subbacultcha

Cults woo the converted on a school night in Shoreditch

New York duo hold back the nerves to rock out and defy the lazy girl-group comparisons.

cults 7 The dreaded Monday night gig. Tonight may not be the easiest for New York’s Cults to woo an expectant crowd in East London’s hippest postcode, especially after guitarist/main man Brian Oblivion apologises early on that “it’s been too long” since their last visit.

Poor Brian says he’s nervous, but there’s really no need to be. He, singer Madeline Follin and their three comrades are in town to promote splendid sophomore LP Static, but there’s no better way to win ‘em over than by getting debut favourite ‘Abducted’ in early.

Their reverb-soaked wall of sound is perfectly suited for the high ceilings of this converted Victorian warehouse, with up-tempo epics like ‘So Far’ and the frankly incredible ‘I Can Hardly Make You Mine’ sounding like lost 60s classics

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So far so Shangri-Las, but to be fair the girl-group comparisons have been over-done with this band. They can rock too (though not quite to the extent that their head banging-ready locks might suggest). Brian attacks his guitar with the fervour of a young Kevin Shields, while the bassist struts when delivering his memorable lick in ‘Always Forever’ which bears more than a passing resemblance to the Arctic Monkey’s Dr Dre-aping ‘Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?’.

It’s a shame then that the spotlight falls squarely on Madeline; her monotonous hip shake is fine but hardly up there with Future Islands’ Samuel T. Herring’s recent Letterman performance (seriously, YouTube it), but then what is? Her piercing voice is so high it threatens to float away, but it’s perfectly suited to Cults’ lofty ambitions and she’s a fine focal point.

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Actually, credit too to the lighting team as psychedelic swirls render the venue a giant lava lamp while old Westerns play on the multiple on TV sets on the back wall. Before long the plug is pulled, and after a very brief breather, we’ve into the serious business of the encore.

It’s a school night, but anybody with half a mind on the journey home is rewarded with the glockenspiel-driven ‘Go Outside’, their best-known track having appeared on some TV ad or another a couple of years ago.

It has been fun, Brian. Just don’t leave it so long next time, eh?

Photos: Lois Browne