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Saturday, 20 August 2016

A View From The Back Of The Room: Ministry

Ministry & Devildriver, Tramshed Cardiff

Two days removed from Bloodstock Open Air and with the festival blues kicking in hard, it was time for a little bit of hair of the dog. This was the first of only a handful of UK dates on the tour for the American masters of industrial metal Ministry who are still led by the eccentric genius that is Al Jourgensen. As I met up with Hutchings the younger and his lovely lady, as well of the excitable Retro Girls we took in a few Butcombe Golds and headed into the venue, taking residence on the balcony (having seen the support act a fair few times this is always the best vantage point) as we waited we once again admired the venue which is one of the best in Cardiff.

Then the waiting was over and the five piece wrecking machine that was Devildriver and as the instrumental pieces started to riff frontman Dez stormed the stage and we were off with one of the most aggressive performances I've ever seen from the band, Dez seemed intensely pissed off stalking the stage and barking the lyrics to End Of The Line and Not All Who Wander Are Lost and between the songs flipping the bird and encouraging the crowd to reciprocate the gesture. Devildriver have always been a band that live for the live arena, unfortunately many of those gathered don't realise that in a Devildriver show pitting is mandatory, so it was up to a couple of veteran fans to start the pits for Daybreak and the confrontational I Could Care Less.

Finally there was action on the floor so the band ploughed on but with little interaction except for Dez's occasional attack of the crowd for being stationary but this anger translated into a vicious setlist that contained Before The Hangman's Noose, Clouds Over California and wrapped up with the powerful Ruthless and Meet The Wretched. This was the most direct and violent I've seen Devildriver in long time and Dez himself seemed honoured to be supporting Ministry and claimed he would watch the band from the front with a bottle of wine in his hand (I thought they didn't allow glass in a venue?). Devildriver seemed to me to be an odd fit but it made sense at the climax of their set, it made the blood inside you heat up and got you ready for aural battering that was about to start. 8/10

So the stage was set and the bass started to throb, John Bechdel's keys and electronics providing an integral part of the Ministry sound, with the industrial stomp of the band on display it takes you by surprise just how much of a heavy prospect they are on stage. The dual guitars of Sin Quirin and Cesar Soto, who is the latest to take up the mantle left by Mike Scaccia after his death in 2012, riffing together as one tight unit while the heavy bass rhythms of Jason Christopher is matched by Roy Mayorga's impressive drumming. The set kicked off with Hail To His Majesty (Peasants) which serves as the introduction to "Uncle Al" as he strode on stage with his mask hat and cane ready for the amassed peasants to worship.

The aggression didn't let up as Punch In The Face was accompanied by images of his Trumpness as Ministry aurally and visually assaulted the crowd with a mixed set including more modern tracks including the amazing Rio Grande Blood and a sprinkling of classics such as the colossal sounding N.W.O and Just One Fix. There was no let up with Ministry no chit chat just a barrage of pounding riffs and shout along choruses that Jourgensen spits through his vocoder as he prowls the stage while his band kick the crap out of the of you, occasionally he picks up a guitar and adds some discord to the madness showing why he is such and impressive multi-faceted  The sound in the arena was almost deafening, possibly one of the loudest gigs this year, luckily the venue suited for the noise however the vocals of both bands did suffer a little. Still the main set was 13 songs long and as Stigmata and Thieves finished the main event in fine style.

We were allowed to get the ringing out of our ears before the twisted sermon recommenced Jourgensen downing two beers before starting with Psalm 69 and So What which got the pits going again before Khyber Pass and Gates Of Steel finished everyone off one last time. An audio/visual treat, Ministry's influence can be seen in acts like Rammstein, Rob Zombie and Slipknot with this set being an amalgamation of all three of those acts but obviously as witnessed here, they are the original and they are the best! 9/10        

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