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Friday 5 July 2019

A View From The Back Of The Room: Ministry

Ministry, SWX, Bristol

I've seen Ministry (8) before, actually in Cardiff, it was one of the madest gigs I've ever seen, over an hour of visual and aural abuse from Uncle Al Jourgensen and his band as they bludgeon you with thumping industrial tinged metal. Now as I've said I have seen them before so what really drew me to this show was the added support of American modern industrialists 3Teeth, whose album Paul H recently reviewed very favourably. A double hit of electronic battery was exactly what was needed but unfortunately it was not to be.

This was the first show in the UK part of the tour, with three hours before doors it was announced that 3Teeth were not going to be playing the show due to the the dubious excuse of Visa difficulties. I never really believe this is an excuse, especially so close to the show and as we went into the venue it was clear that this show was not sold out in anyway which added to my reasoning why 3Teeth wouldn't be making the show. Though they seem to be perfectly fine to play the remaining shows on the tour especially their album release show in London later that week. The last minute replacement for the night was Bristol based one man project Fuck Authority (3) who was dreadful, it would have been better to open the doors later or have Ministry come on earlier rather than being subjected to 20 minutes of a single droning note made by an electric Double Bass, occasionally augmented by some Theremin. This was basically instrument abuse, the soundtrack of an adsl router being hit with a hammer. As the venerable DJ Scoundrel put it at the gig itself, basically it was Swans without the good bits. We went out while he was playing as to be honest I have spent most of my life dealing with dulcet tones from the equipment I work with.

Thankfully it did end after what felt like an eternity he went off and made way for the headline act who basically could have been anyone at all but this was Ministry and as the distorted images of the Orange President came on the screen the black clad band came to the stage first they are John Bechdel (keyboards), Sin Quirin (guitars), Cesar Soto (guitars), Derek Abrams (drums) and newest man Paul D'Amour (original Tool bassist), then as the intro descended into Twilight Zone as Al came to the stage in blast of energy screaming, shouting and booming down his two mics on his elaborate mic stand while also parping on some synth drenched harmonica. It was the first song in an opening set that played all of their most recent release the defiant AmeriKKKant album in full. The record targets every bigoted war mongering (Wargasm), racist (Antifa) powerful person in America stabbing a massive knife to the heart of the MAGA movement exposing them for what they are.

It's always a brave move to play an entire record live but it was great to hear it the way it was probably recorded with the normal Ministry low end guts behind it pumping through SWX's brilliant sound system. A quick change and it was into set two this one based on 'classics' kicking off The Missing and encompassing those big hitters such as Stigmata, Jesus Built My Hotrod, Just One Fix and N.W.O made for the liveliest crowd reaction of the night, ending the night was No Devotion a cover from Al's other band Revolting Cocks. A masterclass in audio terrorism Ministry always deliver on stage, just a shame that we didn't get the ideal double shot that would have capped off the evening.

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