Electric Love in the Sonic Temple With The Cult The Cult Wrap Up The U.S. Leg Of Sonic Temple 30th Anniversary Tour At The Greek Theatre
LOS ANGELES, CA– Traffic in Los Angeles can be a real buzz killer. But as I made my way to the Greek Theatre, full of anticipation to celebrate the 30 year anniversary of my favorite Cult album, Sonic Temple, my excitement did not wane. Honestly, how could it? As most of us back in the 80’s, I was first introduced to the band via the “She Sells Sanctuary” video on MTV. I was hooked. Ian Astbury’s voice and Billy Duffy’s “Sonic” guitar tones, were like a psychedelic, post-punk orgasm to my teenage ears. I purchased Love and Dreamtime, and so began my 30 plus year, “love affair” with their music.
The Cult is celebrating Sonic Temple’s 30th Anniversary this tour. Upon hearing it back in 1989, I was of the opinion that this was a beautiful and satisfying blend of what they had done on their Dreamtime, Love and Electric albums. This album married the post-punk deliciousness of the former two albums with straight forward, hard rocking, knock-you-on-your-ass style of the latter. This album, in my opinion, was when they got their signature sound.
2 1/2 hours in traffic caused me to be late and miss openers, VOWWS. As I stepped in and was getting my credential, I was informed that they had just finished their set. Bummer. My apologies. It’s always exciting to see what bands get the opening slots for a band like the Cult. This night I was introduced to Zola Jesus and Prayers. I was unfamiliar with the openers prior to the show announcement.
A prerecorded drum track began to play as Nika Danilova (professionally known as Zola Jesus), crept on stage, draped in a yellow chiffon cover over what I can only describe as a “Poison Ivy” style bodysuit. Her long black hair hung over her face like “Samara Morgan” from the movie, “The Ring.” She joined her guitarist and violinist already in place on stage.
To be honest, I was skeptical of what this trio of musicians would bring. But as she reached her mic, and began to sing over her haunting compositions, I became increasingly interested. Her voice is beguiling. Both sweet like a siren and powerful like a banshee, (not shrill or unpleasing, but strong). Her music is an amalgam of electronic, industrial and goth elements.
I am unclear as to the order or names of her songs, but I went back to listen again to her music and I particularly liked her recording “Exhumed”. Zola Jesus’ music delivers an exquisitely ethereal musical painting that provokes an emotional connection in me, even as a first time listener.
Electronic Goth Rock Duo, Prayers, were next. Whereas I’ve never been a huge fan of “boxed music,” they put on an exhilarating show. Being unfamiliar with their work, I enjoyed their set, with their hard beats, Electric grooves and intense melodies.
Upon reading about founder and singer, Rafael Reyes, his inspirations for the group are compelling to me and motivate me to dig deeper into their music and lyrics. My general first impressions were good and the odds are good that I’ll more of the “Cholo Goth” genre.
The Cult took the stage. Grant Fitzpatrick, played the intro bass line for “Sun King,” my excitement began to build. As Ian Astbury stated, “This is where it all begins,” and with that the doors of Sonic Temple opened.
They flawlessly delivered 8 of the 11 tracks from the record, also including “Sweet Soul Sister,” “American Horse”, “Soul Asylum” (my personal favorite), and “Automatic Blues”, which I’ve always interpreted as a song about coming together in unity, because the world is going to shit. Astbury made light of “New York City” in saying, “I wrote a song about New York City, but I live in LA.”, and of course, “Ciao, Edie” and “Fire Woman.”
The demeanor of the band was quite jovial and appreciative of those in attendance. Part of what I enjoy seeing at a live show are the playful interactions between band members and the witty banter with the crowd. They gave both. Astbury made it a point to profess his sincerest appreciation and love for the City of Angels. These types of things draw me in to the show, and makes for a closer connection with the band than just the music. Weird, I know, but it makes the experience complete for me.
The familiar drone of Billy Duffy’s guitar on “Rise”, kicked off the second half of what would prove to be an eclectic set. Followed by “American Gothic”, both from 2001’s Beyond Good and Evil release. When I heard this CD, it reaffirmed my love for this band and their sound. There has always been an air of hope in the lyrics throughout their entire catalog, and I really identify with it personally.
I was pleasantly surprised as drummer, John Tempesta, began pounding out the intro to “Spirit Walker.” The song is the second track off of the Dreamtime, which is the first record group identified as The Cult, after formerly using the “Death Cult” moniker. I had never seen them play this song live before, so it was an extra thrill for me.
Now dig this … “The Phoenix” guitar riff fills the air. That psychedelic flang and wah pedal sound that Billy Duffy is infamous for. I could listen to it all day. Upon reaching the climax of that song, they brought us back to my first love, the one that started it all for me. The one that still today, I sing out of no where, when it circles in my brain. “She Sells Sanctuary.” With a blistering performance of this iconic song, they leave me wanting more as they leave the stage.
The Greek Theatre is full of anticipation waiting for the encore. The crowd is wound up and ready for what the band is going to give. One by one, they come back on stage. I’m ready. They break into “Wild Flower.” “I’m a wolf-child girl, howling for you, wild flower. I love you every Hour” are some of my favorite lyrics written. Ian flashes the “L. A.” Hand sign again showing his love for this city. Now here comes the “Rain.” Finally, closing out the show with “Love Removal Machine.”
All in all, it was a great mix of their 5 best albums. The music was performed perfectly. The Cult have never disappointed me the multiple times I’ve been able to see them, and on this evening, this trek in the Sonic Temple, was by far one of the best performances I’ve been witness to. This was the final night of the U.S. leg of the Sonic Temple 30th Anniversary Tour. It was an amazing night. See you soon, gentlemen. Hopefully, you’ll be opening the doors of the Sonic Temple again for us real soon..