Eye liner running in sweaty smears down his cheeks, Razmo spasms like a preacher possessed by forces unknown. With octave-hopping vocal gymnastics he spits his lyrics (‘if I was an alligator, I’d be so snappy in conversation’) like a circus performer spits fire. The keyboardist hops from foot to foot, a joy-struck imp on a hot tin roof, all the while bassist Sebastian leans against the wall of The Thomas House’s basement venue, coolness made man.

Mismatched paisley suits adorn Cult Called Man’s five-man lineup. No builders-gone-glam them, no Slade worship here. Roxy Music’s glam meets Chic’s funk. A lean, lithe pack of cryptids on a six-inch stage.

A stage not nearly adequate enough to contain Cult Called Man’s tremendous presence. Cian is an understated performer, stage right with his left-handed strat slung at hip-height, he’s capable of muso funk chords and flashes of noise-brilliance and wields both sets of weaponry with deft skill. The drummer’s powerful backbeat propels the gig at high-octane velocity while never losing the almighty groove. If this were an actual cult, we’d all be drinking that kool-aid.

Sudden shifts in dynamics grab each and every person in the forty-to-fifty-max crowd by the lapels and gives them a good shaking. There’s scarcely breathing room in this minuscule venue, but we the crowd manage to shake Cult Called Man right back. As Razmo himself noted ‘it’s like a love-in!’

And there is indeed love in the air. Cult clearly love their crowd, and their crowd love them. It’s rare to see such adoration at an indie gig; the audience chanting ‘CULT-CALLED-MAN! CULT-CALLED-MAN!’ between numbers and the band returning the favour with a performance so energised it’d put the wildest punk band to shame. And we all lap it up. Band included.

In an all too brief flash of technicolour it’s over. The band even do something they’ve never done before: they play an encore. To roars for more, Razmo lays down his guitar and turns to face his bandmates…

And not a soul, not one, isn’t smiling. Cult Called Man’s grins are as infectious as their music. Pure, unbridled joy pervades the air as we file out past the merch desk, shouting at each other to be heard over the ringing in our ears. Sweaty and shook, the benchmark has been set high for gigs to come.

by James Fleming

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