Ministry City National Grove of Anaheim 5/11/2015
Once upon a time, in the mid-80s, an electronic pop outfit called Ministry endeared itself to goth culture with a song called "Every Day is Halloween." Within the span of about five years, the group abandoned the new waviness of their original sound and morphed into a sonic frightfest of thrashing guitars, jackhammer drums, and guttural vocals. Lead singer / songwriter Al Jourgensen continues to lead various incarnations of the band on an Industrial metal rampage with themes that have essentially gone for the throat of the various Bush administrations.
Though Jourgensen is perhaps rivaling The Who in terms of how many farewell tours he's done with Ministry, a decent crowd from the greater Los Angeles area heeded the call and headed down to Anaheim to experience the band's routinely vicious attack on right-wing America. The fact that Ministry had not put out a new album since 2013's From Beer to Eternity was not lost on fans who remarked that the setlist was essentially the same as it's been for the last three years. Perhaps it is the band's energy that draws them; perhaps it is the dark imagery; or, perhaps it is just that there's still plenty of angst left over from George W. Bush's reign to merit a revivalist purge of angry head banging. Then again, some of the institutions which "Uncle Al" rails against, like Fox News (in the song "Fairly Unbalanced"), still exist.
Clearly, Jourgensen is not too concerned over the prospect of redundancy in his material as he conceded, twice, something to the effect of "Yeah, we're still doing the same old shit." The frontman also demonstrated indifference to his surroundings through his greeting of, "Hello Los Angeles, or wherever the fuck I am," but this is the image and attitude that his devoted fans have come to love. Still, it was a little odd to witness what seemed to be respect for the genteel venue of The Grove, when he waved his finger at the small mosh pit which formed in front of the stage.
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The set predominantly consisted of songs from the band's 21st century albums, especially the aforementioned From Beer to Eternity. Towards the end of the 17 song set, they satisfied the cravings of their old school fans by dipping into two of their seminal albums, The Mind is a Terrible Thing to Taste (with "Thieves" and "So What") and Psalm 69: The Way to Succeed and the Way to Suck Eggs (with "N.W.O." and "Just One Fix"). The fairly minimalist stage show featured Jourgensen's skeletal-bedecked microphone stand and some standard-fare, industrial music stage show film collages, which were customized to complement the individual songs.
While this was nothing new for tried and true fans, the concert provided them with what they needed, a cathartic experience for their disenfranchised punk hearts. Adding to this, Jourgensen left the crowd with a message of hope about life in a country governed by Big Brother; he pointed out to the black-clad crowd that, "Yes, they're watching you, but remember: you can watch them, too."