Ministry, with all due respect, is throwback band. With that being said, they are still one the most relevant groups today, partially due to how politically-charged they were in their heyday and, with today’s political turmoil, it’s all gravy from here on out. Al Jourgensen, although not so wordy on stage, says a lot via the Ministry platform. I was fortunate enough to catch them in Los Angeles recently, with the gloomy, yet mesmerizing Chelsea Wolfe in support. With this lineup taking place at Anaheim, California’s House of Blues, I knew I was in for a treat.
Check out Chelsea Wolfe’s video for their single “16 Psyche”.
Chelsea Wolfe, touring in support of her 2017 release, Hiss Spun, launched into “Carrion Flowers” from the Abyss album. This is the second time I’ve seen Chelsea Wolfe and both times this song has been the opener. And why not? It’s a fucking great song. It grabs your attention and sets the tone for the rest of the set. As the fashionably late Los Angelians started to fill the cookie-cutter House of Blues venue, Chelsea Wolfe finished her set up with “Scrape” off of Hiss Spun. The song has a “leave you hanging” feel to it and without haste, the band departed the stage after the last notes rang out. I was expecting an encore, but to the dismay to me and the others that came to see her, there was not.
The stage decor for Ministry was worth the price of admission alone. Situated on each end and positioned against the front edge of the stage, were these gigantic air-filled props that resembled Chick Fil-A chickens with golden bouffant hairdos that resembled, well…President Donald Trump. Each chicken had a black swastika on its belly with a red “anti” symbol covering them. Al Jourgensen pulls no punches when it comes to President Trump. The evidence is overwhelming, there are dozens of interviews, and with 2018’s release of Ministry’s fourteenth studio album, AmeriKKKant, it’s the exclamation point with regards to how he feels about the 45th President of the United States.
The live version of Ministry these days is a star-laden affair including guest appearances from Burton C. Bell of Fear Factory, former N.W.A. member Arabian Prince, DJ Swamp and Lord of the Cello. As far as the actual performance, Ministry opened their set with a new song off AmeriKKKant entitled “Twilight Zone”. Ministry then plowed through about a 90-minute set comprised of fourteen songs. With the Trump’s share of the setlist coming from the new release, there came a point when Al Jourgensen snidely stated that the crowd had paid good money to hear older material and he was going to make good on that statement.
Ripping through the likes of “Just One Fix”, “N.W.O.”, “Thieves” and “So What”, there was finally excitement laced throughout the now jam-packed venue. On a side note, I have to get this off my chest. No matter how much Al Jourgensen may hate playing those songs night after night, they’re the reason that fans, many in their 40’s now, are still shelling out decent money to attend Ministry shows in 2018. Rant over. Ministry’s encore consisted of only a single song, “Bad Blood”, which debuted on the The Matrix soundtrack. That song, along the rest of their set, punctuated the fact that Ministry is indeed a puzzle at times, but one that is still relevant, and worth the time and effort to see live.
Watch Ministry’s recently-released music video for “Antifa”.