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The Cult - San Diego Fair

June 13, 2018

Story by James West,

Photos by Danette West,

The San Diego Fair- Ferris wheels; Beautiful babies with face paint; Freaky food creations; and for the really daring- Bungee jumping and slingshots! And livestock… tons of stinking livestock!

The Cult- Southern Death Cult; Post-punk and gothic beginnings; Heavy metal revivalists; Pseudo-mysticism of The Doors; Guitar- orchestrations of Led

Zeppelin! And Riffs… tons of wonderful riffs!  Whoever came up with pairing these two polar opposite entities together was either completely insane or a completely beautiful visionary.  All I can say is God bless the visionaries of this world!

The Rocker Chic and I didn’t quite know what to expect as we paid homage to classic Ian Astbury while putting on our best goth-rock garb!  All I know is I’m starting to get a bit too comfy with donning these crazy wigs before every gig! LOL

After the short drive to San Diego to the fairgrounds we had priorities to attend to; first and foremost there was a funnel cake with my name on it.  Then, it’s always an absolute must at County Fairs to take as many goofy pictures as possible.  Check both off the list; now we’re ready to rock!

The stage was set up on the grounds of the Del Mar horse track and stands.  We splurged for the 40-dollar boxed seats and had a great view that was level with the lifted stage.  It was a cool idea that fair-goers got free admission to the standing room only section in front of the stage.  But as The Rocker Chic and I discovered last time when we were there seeing Cheap Trick and Peter Frampton at a previous years’ fair it was easy to get a crick in your neck by having to look almost straight up to the high stage!

WOW - A Room With A View!

The stage also had an open backdrop, so it was almost like having The Cult at my own backyard barbeque!  You could see the colorful residential condos in the background along with the racetrack and fair concessions also.  But, while the stage view was a bit distracting the band made up for it with an outstanding sound system that was perfectly balanced.  I was about to hear The Cult like I’ve never heard them

before in concert!  I’ve witness the pure energy of The Cult before.  A couple years ago they opened for Guns N Roses, and I had also seen them down South at the annual Memphis In May concerts.  On both occasions, they played only a short set of hits with smaller sound systems at their respective venues.  Maybe this concert sounded so good because we were literally next to the sound engineer board (note to self when booking seats at further concerts!)

We're Here - Even On A Wednesday!

And as the next couple of hours would unfold that makeshift racetrack stage venue would soon transform into a giant arena-type Rock Show with most of the fair-goers becoming rabid Cult fans in the process.  The small gathering down in the standing room section soon grew to epic proportions as the band played their asses off that night.  According to

Ian “The Shaman” Astbury, “If you come we will be there.  Even on a Wednesday… a fucking Wednesday!”

With daylight fading The Cult took the stage promptly at 7:30. The sound of cool tribal drums segued  into Wild Flower and the band launched into full Cult mode for 15 more awesome classics.  Ferris wheels, face painting, and bungee jumping could not compete with The Cult firing on all cylinders and delivering a blistering set of mostly hits and a few early goth surprises like Nirvana, Spiritwalker and Phoenix thrown in for good measure.  To be honest, I haven’t heard any EARLY Cult other than She Sells Sanctuary and Rain. 

Ian Astbury - The modern

spirit of Jim Morrison

Billy Duffy - The punk

spirit of Jimmy Page

My love affair with The Cult started with the rocking album Electric, so the surprises were just that to me.  The Rocker Chic and I enjoyed the early Goth-rocked up tunes, and we both seriously got down to that unbelievable breakdown in Nirvana by Billy Duffy.  It was Goth but hard-rock-your-face-off Goth!

C'mon - Give The New Guy Some!

Another welcome surprise came from Cult leaders Ian and Billy allowing the other current band members to play a bigger part of the show.   Considering the two have gone through over 20 previous band members says a lot to this show of support to the current lineup. Drummer John Tempesta has been with the band for 12 years now and he certainly continues to show his muscle with the drums and band.   Bass player Grant

Fitzpatrick was given room to lay down some infectious bass grooves and gave the music another dimension of sound I haven’t heard in quite a while.

But the “Hidden City” to the bands’ dynamic complex has to be keyboardist/guitarist Damon Fox.  Even though he stayed hidden for most of the set Damon has really fleshed-out a more complete sound for The Cult.  I didn’t even know Damon until researching for this article, but it turns out he is also the singer and driving force behind Big Elf- a brilliant progressive rock band that I discovered a few years ago.  Ian Astbury even alluded to his diversity when he mentioned “Pink Floyd meets The Cult” when announcing Damon at the show.

Beware of the fully fried bacon-wrapped pickles!

Maybe it was because I didn’t have that much expectations of the mixing of a “dark” rock band playing a “light” county fair; but this night proved to be a beautifully balanced day of both.  There are a couple of important lessons I learned from this experience.  First- If you are going to see The Cult live you have to see them on their own (no double or triple bill) to get the full magical and mystical experience that only Ian, Billy and the boys can bring.  Second- Stay far far away from the fully fried bacon-wrapped pickles.  While good in theory, these two ideas definitely don’t mix well for the intestines!


The Cult Setlist, June 13, 2018, San Diego County Fair

Del Mar Fairgrounds, California:


1.   Wild Flower

2.   Rain

3.   Dark Energy

4.   Peace Dog

5.   Lil’ Devil

6.   Nirvana

7.   Spiritwalker

8.   Deeply Ordered Chaos


9.   King Contrary Man

10. Sweet Soul Sister

11. GOAT

12. Phoenix

13. Fire Woman

14. Love Removal Machine

15. Rise

16. She Sells Sanctuary

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