Concert Review: Cults @ Lee’s Palace, Toronto, Ontario

Last night Cults, a band literally with a cult-following (sorry, had to be done), played the Toronto leg of their Static album tour. Their first album was our favourite album of 2011, while you’ll have to wait until next month to see what we think of sophomore album Static.

PeteHatesMusic Martin Bazyl Cults_Lees Palace 1

Cults @ Lee’s Palace, Toronto (Copyright: PeteHatesMusic and Martin Bazyl Photography)

The twosome of guitarist Brian Oblivion and singer Madeline Follin make up the studio version of Cults, but they were joined on stage by many members of the Cult(s). How would this translate to the live stage? Hopefully better than my attempts to make some sort of non-obvious cult-related joke.

It was nice to see a band play a smaller venue like Lee’s Palace and have some kind of visual other than the basic lighting. Cults had 8 small screens that flicked between static images (I get it – their album is called Static, too!) and some random stock footage of cities and people.

The band opened up with new single High Road, with Brian rocking a toque and Madeline wearing a skirt and swaying side to side. The first track on the self titled debut album was next – Abducted. The track was energy-filled and a more cheerful version than the album.

Cults then launched into Never Heal Myself, with Brian noting afterwards that it was a special show for him since it’s his birthday. He noted that he was wearing a traditional Canadian toque, which is why I gave CHVRCHES some toques when they came to Canada.

PeteHatesMusic Martin Bazyl - Cults Lees Palace 2

Cults @ Lee’s Palace, Toronto (Copyright: PeteHatesMusic and Martin Bazyl Photography)

Another sun-kissed track, the dreamy Always Forever, was next. Madeline can certainly make a song sound sweet with her vocals. Never Saw the Point had a bit of a different keyboard sound and came across a little flat musically, but Madeline showcased some powerful vocals at the end of the track.

We’ve Got It followed, and then Brian noted that the band were going to slow things down a bit, as they played You Know What I Mean. The song has bursts of hyper parts that didn’t really slow things down a bit. There were neat rain drop visuals and lighting throughout the track. Madeline’s hips swayed more as she got into the music. Unfortunately, hip and shoulder swaying were about the only moves that she had, but it’s better than a Liam Gallagher stare and snarl for an hour.

Brian initially led the way for Were Before, with the song accentuating the sweet and soft vs. loud and rocking dynamic, which came off a bit more in the live setting.

PeteHatesMusic Martin Bazyl - Cults Lees Palace 3

Cults @ Lee’s Palace, Toronto (Copyright: PeteHatesMusic and Martin Bazyl Photography)

New track So Far was up next, followed by Bumper, with Brian’s vocals being a little timid, which was persistent all night. Perhaps turn the mic up a little more? He certainly didn’t seem shy out there.

“We got through this so fast I didn’t even have time for a drink, on my birthday.” I was hoping this would spur the crowd on to sing happy birthday, but we didn’t bite.

The punky intro of I Can Hardly Make You Mine was next, followed by a cover of Total Control by the Motels, which sounds like a Cults song. This then segued into crowd pleaser Rave On, which closed out the regular set.

The band noted that the next track, Keep Your Head Up, was kind of slow but also dancey, which made me finally notice that a lot of their songs follow this pattern. It was a little more obvious to notice this in a live setting, but didn’t detract from the music.

PeteHatesMusic Martin Bazyl - Cults Lees Palace 4

Cults @ Lee’s Palace, Toronto (Copyright: PeteHatesMusic and Martin Bazyl Photography)

The predictable cheers kicked off as the band played their big hit Go Outside, with the song sounding a little restrained. The ending was also super heavy, which seemingly came out of nowhere (that’s what she said – yup, still doing that). The bass part was excellent in the song.

The final track of the night was Oh My God, with Madeline urging the drummer to start the song – maybe he missed his cue catching up on Brian’s birthday drinks. It’s not often that a show ends with back to back songs with great xylophone bits, but Cults pulled it off.

The band’s music translated well to a live setting. Madeline’s vocal range and sweet voice was front and centre, while the band’s formula seemed a little more noticeable. Thankfully the formula is one that I haven’t grown tired of, and produces pleasant, catchy songs.

PeteHatesMusic Martin Bazyl - Cults Lees Palace 4

Cults @ Lee’s Palace, Toronto (Copyright: PeteHatesMusic and Martin Bazyl Photography)

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PHM Rating for Cults: 8.0 out of 10

Setlist for Cults @ Lee’s Palace, Toronto, Ontario – November 25, 2013
1 – High Road
2 – Abducted
3 – Never Heal Myself
4 – Always Forever
5 – Never Saw the Point
6 – We’ve Got It
7 – You Know What I Mean
8 – Were Before
9 – So Far
10 –Bumper
11 – I Can Hardly Make You Mine
12 – Total Control by the Motels (cover)
13 – Rave On

14 – Keep Your Head Up
15 – Go Outside
16 – Oh My God

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