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In the midst of the summer festival rush hour, it's easy to forget The Cult are still as big a draw as most of the rest of them.

No, this isn't a joke, because Ian Astbury, Billy Duffy and company headlined the rocker's paradise that is Download last weekend.

In town for a two-night stand, I've never seen the Academy as choc a bloc for a rare chance to see a gigantic band in such an intimate space.

The immediate impression is twofold: The Cult look visibly weathered by the passage of time, especially Astbury, but they still sound amazing.

Kicking off with the anthemic evergreen stomp of 'Rain', they waste no time getting down to business. Astbury throws in a snippet of Thin Lizzy's 'Jailbreak' into a blistering rendition of 'Sweet Soul Sister', still one of their best songs, if not as well known as the two big hits.

Proceedings take a surreal turn when Astbury introduces a self-produced film supposedly inspired by Mark Rothko. A moody, slightly out of focus three-minute short follows. Its brevity is welcome as they return to full-throttle rock n' roll business.

Their signature song, 'She Sells Sanctuary,' possesses one of the most instantly recognisable opening riffs in rock history, and they deliver a crowd rousing version.

'Fire Woman' in the encore set doesn't fare quite so well, as Duffy abandons his guitar due to some indiscernible hitch and plays the tambourine. "Hey, we can't play this without Billy," Astbury exclaims, calling his troops to his halt as Duffy is spared his temporary Linda McCartney role and issued with a new guitar. The band start from the top and the place goes bananas.

Fads and fashions will come and go, but if these hard rock revivalists keep on sounding this good, they'll somehow manage to outlive them all.

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