The Cult / May 26, 2006 / Toronto (Molson Amphitheatre)

With no new album or "greatest hits plus two new songs" collection to tour behind, it seems a bit odd that the Cult would see 2006 as the right time to return.

With no new album or "greatest hits plus two new songs" collection to tour behind, it seems a bit odd that the Cult would see 2006 as the right time to return. But as much as lead singer Ian Astbury enjoyed his time playing with the Doors Of The 21st Century, only the guitar work of Billy Duffy ever got the best out of him. And Astbury only brought out the best in Duffy. So, with the promise of new material on the horizon, the Cult hit the homestretch of its Canadian tour with all systems running as well as can be expected.

Before a loud and hearty crowd that half-filled this vast open-air venue on a cold and damp evening, the Cult tore through 17 of its finer moments in just under 90 minutes. From the opening notes of "Lil Devil," the bearded, bandana-wearing Astbury did his best to capture the energy and intensity of the meaty rocker, smashing his tambourine and twirling his mic a la Roger Daltrey. The murky, bluesy-tinged "Sweet Soul Sister" followed, with Duffy offering the first of many solos.

The set was primarily drawn from 1985's "Love," 1987's "Electric" and 1989's "Sonic Temple." But after the initial romp through some fist-pumping, glass-raising tracks, the Cult slowed things with the plodding "Revolution" and a rather run-of-the-mill "Spiritwalker." Astbury's voice hasn't lost that much, but he appeared to pace himself while Duffy stole the show during "Rain," which had the house lights on. "I know it's a cliche but fuck it, it's our show," Astbury said before the standing audience was illuminated.

Halfway through the set, Duffy and Astbury allowed the supporting cast of guitarist Mike Dimkich, bassist Chris Wyse and drummer John Tempesta some down time, bringing out stools for an acoustic rendition of "Edie (Ciao Baby)." Easily one of the highlights of the night, Duffy and Astbury were almost drowned out by the crowd singing along.

It set the stage for a string of warhorses such as "Fire Woman," "Rise" and the primal pleasing "Wild Flower." The latter saw Astbury's knees buckling to the beat as if he was channeling AC/DC's Angus Young while Duffy, after chugging a can of Red Bull, did a number of Townshend-inspired windmills.

"Love Removal Machine" closed out the main set as a punk-ish raveup, while the two-song encore ended with the signature "She Sells Sanctuary." Although the Cult is almost 20 years removed from its heyday, the band did not embarrass itself in Toronto.

Here is the Cult's set list:

"Lil Devil"
"Sweet Soul Sister"
"The Witch"
"Electric Ocean"
"Revolution"
"Spiritwalker"
"Rain"
"In The Clouds"
"Edie (Ciao Baby)"
"Fire Woman"
"Peace Dog"
"Rise"
"Wild Flower"
"Love Removal Machine"
"The Phoenix"
"She Sells Sanctuary"