TVD Live Shots:
The Cult and The Beta Machine at The Regency Ballroom, 6/12

It’s hard to believe that it’s been 30 years since The Cult released their iconic Sonic Temple album, but leave it to The Cult to remind us with a tour and a sold out show at San Francisco’s Regency Ballroom. A two-hour power outage at the Regency delayed doors, and openers The Beta Machine were still sound checking as the lobby filled with the eager fans who rushed to the barricade the moment they had the chance, venue staff hollering, “walk please!”

Due to the crew’s herculean effort to get the show back on track after the outage, The Beta Machine was able to take the stage only 10 minutes late for their 30 minute set. You may not know The Beta Machine but you’ll likely recognize some familiar faces … Matt McJunkins (A Perfect Circle, Eagles of Death Metal and many more) and Jeff Friedl (A Perfect Circle, DEVO, Puscifer and many more) held down the rhythm section and joined by Nicholas Perez (guitar/keys) and Laura Vall (vocals) for what would only be her third show with the band. In spite of the mad scramble to get the show rolling, the band’s performance was flawless and the shared vocals between McJunkins and Vall sounded great.

By the time The Cult finally took the stage, the Regency Ballroom was packed to capacity. First Damon Fox (keys), then John Tempesta (drums), and Grant Fitzpatrick (bass) stepped out and launched into the groove of “Sun King” followed by original members Billy Duffy and finally Ian Astbury as the crowd went wild.

The notoriously-deficient Regency air conditioning was living up to its reputation, leading Astbury to comment, “this place seems to have its own weather,” as the temperature and humidity soared (maybe “Rain” would have been a better opener). A playful Astbury shrugged off the heat and strutted the stage while demonstrating his tambourine acrobatics skills which left the stage littered with its casualties.

Not surprisingly the setlist focused heavily on Sonic Temple, but thankfully mixed up the order rather than playing the album straight through, but “Soldier Blue” and “Wake Up Time for Freedom” somehow didn’t make the cut. Of course that leaves time for the other classics: “She Sells Sanctuary,” “Love Removal Machine,” and “Wild Flower.”

The band, and Ian in particular, sounded better than they have in a long while. Maybe because things were slowed down a bit, but that gave Astbury the opportunity to actually sing all the words (in the past he’s had a tendency to skip some). As always, Billy Duffy was the coolest cat on stage—shredding the leads while making it all look effortless and replicating the iconic windmill pose from the Sonic Temple cover art.

Kudus to the band for keeping it loose; when Billy needed to solve a technical issue, someone from the audience yelled out “drum solo” prompting Tempesta to launch right in. Later, the band launched into a Doors jam that ended abruptly with, “that’s all you’re gonna get,” from Asbury—an epic tease that could have been perfectly punctuated with sad trombone music.

“She Sells Sanctuary” was no doubt the highlight of the evening, being the song that really required no prompting by Astbury to get the crowd pumped. A brief break had the band back on stage to wrap the evening with “Love Removal Machine” closing out one of the best Cult shows in memory for this writer. Well done, gents.

THE BETA MACHINE

SETLIST
Sun King
New York City
Automatic Blues
Sweet Soul Sister
American Horse
Soul Asylum
Edie (Ciao Baby)
Fire Woman
Rise
American Gothic
Spiritwalker
The Phoenix
She Sells Sanctuary

ENCORE
Wild Flower
Rain
Love Removal Machine

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