Ministry’s performance at the Agora last night was probably one of the most unusual retirement parties you could imagine. Ringleader Al Jourgensen and crew had little problem drawing a crowd of amped-up metalheads and gangly goth kids for what was heralded as Ministry’s final tour.
The occasionally rowdy audience surprisingly skewed toward the younger side, but older fans from Ministry’s late-’80s and early-’90s periods still composed a solid chunk of fans. Supporting bands Meshuggah and Hemlock did a good job warming up the crowd – Meshuggah especially generated a warm response from the crowd with its take on down-tuned metalcore ...
By the time Ministry took the stage, the Agora’s floor was filled and primed to erupt. Jourgensen had little problem motivating the audience, immediately launching into a relentless set that spotlighted Ministry’s recent trilogy of political albums: Houses of the Molé, Rio Grande Blood, and The Last Sucker. Jourgensen didn’t need to verbally slam his No. 1 target, the Bush Administration; instead, he let songs like the thrashed-out “Watch Yourself” and “No W” make all the biting commentary for him.
The night’s performance was the closest you could get to experiencing a bomb attack without actually, you know, experiencing a bomb attack. It was sensory overload in a live setting -- volume levels so high, you could feel it in your chest, video imagery and strobe lights so intense they occasionally became exhausting.
After the main set wrapped, many longtime fans were left wondering, Where’s the classic stuff? No worry. Jourgensen, along with Prong’s Tommy Victor and Fear Factory’s Burton Bell, returned to belt out longtime faves from The Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Taste and Psalm 69. Bell added his signature growl to “NOW” and “Just One Fix,” and the audience re-energized for one last go-round.
Ministry wrapped up the show, not as a militant industrial-rock powerhouse, but as a party band from hell, firing abrasive covers of the Doors’ “Roadhouse Blues,” ZZ Top’s “Just Got Paid” and the Rolling Stones' “Under My Thumb.” This finale – taken from Ministry’s latest album, Cover Up -- seemed closer to Jourgensen’s Revolting Cocks project, but the crowd dug it. It all ended with a balloon drop. Yes -- balloons. If only every retirement party could be like this. --Norm Narvaja