PHOTOS: Ministry at Center Stage

Amerikkkant? breathes bold new life into Al Jourgensen and Co.'s industrial-grade thrashing

Ministry2018 04 25 67
Photo credit: Mike White
UNCLE AL: Ministry mastermind Al Jourgensen.

WHO: Ministry, Chelsea Wolfe, and the God Bombs at Center Stage April 25.

WHAT: Uncle Al Jourgensen and Co. brought Ministry to Center Stage for a night of thrashing industrial-grade riffs, a sensory-jamming stage show, and a set list spanning nearly 30 years of the group’s legacy. Ministry is on the road for its Amerikkkant North American tour, one of the most colorful, and high-energy shows the group has wielded in over a decade. The catalyst behind this inspired new chapter in the group’s cannon: Utter contempt for President Donald Trump and the right wing menace that’s sweeping the country.

The show kicked off with an early opening set by Brooklyn, New York’s goth/industrial-punk-hip-hop trio the God Bombs. Chelsea Wolfe performed in the middle slot, playing songs from her latest album, Hiss Spun, along with a showstopping rendition of the song "Demons" from her 2011 album Apokalypsis.

When Ministry took the stage, Jourgensen stood front and center, flanked by bulbous inflatable Trump chickens, leading a seven-piece ensemble featuring guitarists Sin Quirin and Cesar Soto, drummer Derek Abrams, bass player Tony Campos, keyboard player John Bechdel, DJ Swamp, and guest vocalist Burton C. Bell of Fear Factory. Bell joined the group singing “Victims Of A Clown,” “We’re Tired Of It,” and “Wargasm” from the group’s anti-Trump opus Amerikkkant.

The first half of the show leaned heavily on Ministry’s more politically charged material — the group mixed songs from Amerikkkant with some late-period greatest hits including “Señor Peligro” and “LiesLiesLies” from 2006’s Rio Grande Blood. They rolled out the crowd pleasers, for the second half of the show, including “Thieves” and “So What” from The Mind Is A Terrible Thing To Taste, and “N.W.O.” from Psalm 69.

Between songs, Jourgensen addressed the audience, saying, “Alright, I guess Atlanta knows our political views. Some like it, some don’t, but we’re still kicking ass. So let’s go back to the ‘80s and ‘90s and realize we’re still in the same shit! This song is about the opioid crisis that we’re in now. And it’s called ‘Just One Fix.’” Images of beat author William S. Burroughs, R.I.P., came to life amid a swirl of psychedelic colors, as the group dove headlong into a searing performance. “Bad Blood” from 1999’s Darkside Of the Spoon was the one and only song they played for the encore. It was a curious choice, but it was, after all, nominated for a Best Metal Performance Grammy in 2000 — one of six nominations that Ministry has received over the years. On the heels putting on such a bold show, supporting such a bold album, it would be a crime for the Grammy Awards to overlook the group once again.

… And yes, it’s seems absolutely absurd to say that speaking out against Nazism is bold, but here we are in 2018. Most bands playing venues this size keep their politics hidden for fear of alienating some of their audience. But as the lyrics to “We’re Tired Of It” state: “How can you make it great? Fuck your intolerance and hate!”

Intrepid photographer Mike White braved the pit to bring back a stellar batch of photos from the show.

Read April’s Fear of Fear column: “Redeeming Ministry: Al Jourgensen and Co.'s 14th studio album, 'Amerikkkant,' rages against the country's Orwellian hellscape.”

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