The Cult Revisit ‘Sonic Temple’ at the Regency Ballroom

in SF Concert Reviews by

If there’s a pet peeve of mine that manifests when watching live music it’s bands that refuse to play hit songs in favor of what they deem to be their “better material.” The Cult is not one of those bands and we thank them for it. Last night in San Francisco they paid homage to the album that’s been their most successful to date. Sonic Temple, an 80s hard rock masterpiece that still sounds as relevant today as when it first hit the airwaves some 30 years ago.

Dancing around the stage of the Regency Ballroom the boys in black not only sounded their best in years but they looked like men half their age. Slim, trim and handsome with a full head of hair. It’s a feat that many bands or men that age fall short of. But not these Brits, they’re still as cool if not cooler today as when we were they first landed on American soil. They’ve ditched the long hair and glam facade for a more authentic black-jeans-goth-biker look and it’s done wonders for them.

Ian Asbury’s voice was impeccable last night. His tone is so unique that it would be hard to replicate. His chemistry with Billy Duffy on guitar is undeniable. It’s a winning formula that’s stood the test of time and one that’s solidified rock bands from mere mortals into untouchable gods since the beginning of time. John Tempesta on the drums kept the pace going strong through the two-hour long set. I’m convinced that he’s the perfect drummer for this band. His grove is unmatched and the way he played so far behind the beat while keeping perfect time was something that would have put a smile on John Bonham’s face.

The refreshing addition of a keyboard player this time around was unexpectedly brilliant. The melodies emanating from the left side of the stage complimented the music so perfectly that it had me hoping it would become a permanent fixture in this already perfect lineup.

All in all, the evening came together nicely. The songs from Sonic Temple not only have stood the test of time, but remind us all of a time in history when rock ruled the airwaves and guitar solos were revered. And judging by the crowd’s response, those times are surely missed.

Photos by Louis Raphael

Having released albums under Digital Nations, a label founded by Steve Vai, music critic Louis Raphael has remained deeply connected to the pulse of the San Francisco music scene. Following his tenure as the San Francisco Music Examiner for and, he embarked on creating Music in SF® to authentically highlight the vibrant offerings of the city's music scene.

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