Ministry 5/8/08 at House of Blues

Thursday night I went over to House of Blues to catch Ministry on what they are billing as their final tour. this was the first of a four night run of shows they are playing at the venue. Seeing as Chicago was their hometown for most of their career, it made sense that they’d more than one night here.


Hemlock


Hemlock


Hemlock

When I got there the place was already pretty full and it wasn’t long before the sold out show was completely filled in beyond capacity. Hemlock took the stage promptly at the scheduled start time. They played some pretty thick and powerful metal complete with guttural, aggressive vocals. In between songs the singer would talk to the crowd and it seemed they were pretty happy to be playing these shows. The crowd seemed to be pretty responsive to them too. They played about a half hour and the time seemed to go by very quickly.


Meshuggah


Meshuggah


Meshuggah


Meshuggah

Next up were Meshuggah. I never heard of them before this show and now I’m kicking myself for not having discovered them sooner. They came out on stage and instantly tore into this churning, powerful song and the singer took front and center and just stared down the crowd in between his intense delivery of the English language. They had this great underlying sound with just the right amount of repetition like some sort of industrial strength bulldozer plowing through the senses. The lights were flashing in time to the cycles of noise bellowing from the stage and I was mesmerized. The crowd obviously were a lot more familiar with them than I was because they were roaring with approval when certain songs were played and heads were banging all over the place as well as the prerequisite moshing. There was not a dull moment in their set and I absolutely want to own their records and see them again.


Ministry

When the stage was clear, setup began for Ministry. After all the gear was setup, the crew started erecting a chain link fence in front of the stage. This was an obvious homage to Ministry’s 1989 tour where they did the same thing. I wonder how the could have saved this fence since Martin Atkins had chopped up the alleged original and sold pieces of it on ebay. Did they buy the pieces back and reassemble it? Times have changed since 1989 however as not only was the 2008 version not structurally sound where insane crowds could climb up it and jump off into the crowd, but now there are barricades between the stage and crowd to prevent just such activities from taking place. The ironic thing was that likely at least 60 percent of the audience were too young to have been there for the original steel cage tour or would even get the reference. It certainly made for a shooting nightmare but it still looked kind of cool.


Ministry

After playing a pre-recorded version of their theme for the Chicago Blackhawks and then a Revolting Cocks video for “I’m Not Gay”, the band stormed out on stage, picked up their gear and began commencement. They opened with “Let’s Go” which is as good and as energetic of a starting song as you could ask for, which is why it’s the first song on their final album, The Last Sucker. It wasn’t but a couple of minutes before the crowd started going nuts and security guards were pushing me out of the way while I’m struggling with focusing through the fence so they can catch a crowd surfer about to be tossed into the barricade. Those guys certainly had their hands full this evening!


Ministry

The band wasted very little time between songs and followed up with “Watch Yourself”. As the band operated on their instruments with the precision of a top surgeon, Al Jourgensen conducting this demented orchestra of the criminally insane by delivering a near perfect vocal performance. In between his vocal lines, he was rattling the fence, and making arm gestures like he was somehow controlling the insane crowd of moshers and crowd surfers. He was the ringleader, the puppet master pulling the strings of the overcrowded legion of fans witnessing the spectacle of carnage that “Uncle Al” has been delivering for now two decades.


Ministry

Their main set consisted of a few songs each from the past few albums including “LiesLiesLies”, “No W”, “Worthless”, “Rio Grande Blood”, and more. Strangely for being their last tour, there was nothing in the main set from any of my favorite Ministry records (Land of Rape and Honey, The Mind is a Terrible Thing to Taste, and Psalm 69). I found that odd that their main set wasn’t more of a retrospective one since they wouldn’t be taking this show on the road ever again. They closed the main set with “Khyber Pass” which is a pretty good way to end a set.


Ministry

About three minutes later they came back for the first of two encores. This one was comprised of four songs and I finally got a bit of what I was hoping for. The started it out with “So What” and the crowd went absolutely nuts with approval. Nearly the entire crowd were singing along and the floor was flexing from the weight of them all bouncing up and down. From there they brought out the singer(?) from Fear Factory who sang “N.W.O.” and “Just One Fix”. I was thrilled for the former and the crowd went completely out of control for the latter, so much so I thought the floor was going to give way and we’d end up in the restaurant below! They closed the encore with “Thieves” which the crowd loved and I was happier than a pig in shit to be hearing.


Ministry

After that they did another three song encore, which included a cover of “Under My Thumb” and two newer songs. I was shocked and disappointed that they played absolutely nothing off of Land of Rape and Honey. I mean how about “Stigmata” and also what about “Burning Inside” from Mind is a Terrible Thing to Taste?! I would have gladly traded in those three final songs for the two I wished they played and it would have felt more like they covered most of the bases as far as their post industrial-dance career goes.


Ministry


Ministry

Questionable set-list decisions aside, the band put on one hell of a show and proved they still had it one last time. My last experience viewing Ministry live was that of a band that came on stage and delivered the goods spotlessly for nearly two full hours and left the people exhausted and pretty satisfied. I’m gonna miss having Ministry around, they had one hell of a diverse and interesting run and have certainly earned their upcoming retirement.