Friday, November 13, 2009

The sirens call a sailor to die

The backbone of America

"So, what's your favorite Cult album," the guy standing to my right asked. We were waiting for the concert to start at the Wellmont in Montclair, NJ Tuesday night. I told him it was between the album the band is playing in its entirety on this tour, 1985's Love1, or Sonic Temple. "I like them all" he said. A hardcore fan. "Do you have the white boxed set?" I confessed I had never heard of it. "The black boxed set?" Ditto. And so on for a few minutes.

I introduced him to Cheryl who wasn't sure what her favorite Cult album was, and he said his name was Chris. He said he was a sales rep for Otis Spunkmeyer, up from Orlando on a business trip he scheduled around the concert (he said he was going to see the band again in Orlando this weekend with his wife). "I spread happiness and joy," he said. "I sell cookies and baked goods. The cookies in Subway restaurants? That's us. If you've ever had a muffin in a Hampton Inn, that was ours too." If you've ever stayed at a Hampton Inn, you've also seen guys like Chris there, men who make the American economy move.

The last fan

On the way to the show we had parked on some residential street and ended up having to walk a half mile or so detour2 to the theater, so after the concert, we stood outside for a moment trying to orient ourselves. A small crowd had formed, waiting for the band to emerge. We figured we'd stay around for a few minutes and watch. The roadies or the theater staff fenced us in with bicycle racks on two sides so no one would get in the way of the equipment being loaded up. After a few minutes, the back up guitarist and the bassist walked out, signed a few autographs and posed for a few photos. Then the fierce and precise drummer John Tempesta came out. He looked a lot smaller in person than he did glazed in sweat, pounding away behind the drum kit. He posed for a few photos too with a couple of fans, and I shook his hand and complimented him on his performance. Then he walked off into the Montclair night with some young lady about half a head taller than him.

That left two tour buses for the core of the band, lead singer Ian Astbury and lead guitarist Billy Duffy. Cheryl quipped that one bus was for Astbury's ego. The little crowd started to thin out when Astbury and Duffy didn't appear after a few minutes. At that point I started to wonder who would be the last fan waiting around on a Tuesday night. The guy who broke out his leather pants and jacket for the show? The little gaggle of Eastern European guys, one of whom had a sheet with all the songs on the Love album taped to his shirt? I had to go to the bathroom by that point, so we didn't stick around to find out.

1This one sounds much better live, incidentally. I suspect that the band will take the best versions of each of the songs on it from the concerts on this tour and release a 25th anniversary live version of it next year. That I would buy. The title of this post comes from the lyrics to the last song on the album, btw.

2We walked past some pottery cafe and Cheryl asked, "Why can't we have something like that in Hackensack?" "We have more diversity than Montclair," I said, by way of consolation. "I'd rather have a pottery cafe," she said.

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