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The Cult unleashes post-punk and metal blend on a zealous VooDoo crowd

Special to the Star

The Cult are propelled by two bona fide rock stars who are polar opposites on the personality scale.

Lead singer Ian Astbury is 100,000 blazing watts of ego, charisma and melodrama; his counterpart, Billy Duffy, is a stoic who issues elemental but explosive riffs and leads from his low-slung guitar, as workman-like as he is dynamic.

Thursday night, the Cult drew nearly 750 fans to VooDoo at Harrah’s Casino, and for 90 minutes the band unleashed a barrage of hard and loud rock songs drawn from a catalog that spans more than 30 years.

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The British rock band is touring on “Hidden City,” their 10th studio album, released in February, an album that doesn’t flinch in delivering a mix of gloomy post-punk and heavy-metal anthems.

They opened with “Wild Flower,” the lead track from 1987’s “Electric,” which, thanks to producer Rick Rubin, signaled a deliberate and emphatic stylistic switch from post-punk/goth rock to unvarnished hard rock and metal.

As he would most of the night, Astbury, dressed in black from his boots to his sunglasses, prowled the stage, engaging in various rock-star antics, swinging his microphone by the chord and using its stand as a prop.

They followed that with “Rain,” from the “Love” album, then “Hinterland,” a “Hidden City” track. Despite the 31-year span in the music, all three songs sounded contemporary to one another.

Astbury and Duffy were joined by a trio of musicians: longtime drummer John Tempesta, bassist Grant Fitzpatrick and guitarist/keyboardist Damon Fox, a ringer also known for the L.A. prog-rock/metal band he founded in the early 1990s, Bigelf.

They were powerful, precise and efficient all night, barnstorming relentlessly through hits and favorites like “Sweet Soul Sister,” “Rise,” “The Phoenix” and “Lil’ Devil” and more recent tracks like “Honey From a Knife,” “GOAT” and “Birds of Paradise.”

The crowd, mostly men who were in their teens and 20s when the Cult broke out 30 years ago, was enthusiastic and appreciative throughout the set. Astbury expressed plenty of gratitude — “thank you kindly” was his catch phrase — but toward the end of the set he expressed some disappointment in the attendance, wondering out loud whether there was a rock radio station in town. It was an odd complaint, given the healthy size of the crowd and its response, which was feverish at times.

The crowd showered the band with waves of elation several times, especially for the volcanic “Fire Woman” and during “Love Removal Machine,” the last of two encores. But, expectedly, the song that generated the loudest response and sing-along was the classic “She Sells Sanctuary,” a rollicking post-punk anthem that has sustained its appeal and charm for three decades, much like the band that performed it.

Timothy Finn: 816-234-4781, @phinnagain

Set list

Wildflower; Rain; Hinterland; Horse Nation; Lil’ Devil; Honey From a Knife; Gone; Rise; Birds of Paradise; Deeply Ordered Chaos; Sweet Soul Sister; Fire Woman; The Phoenix; She Sells Sanctuary. Encore: GOAT; Love Removal Machine.

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