Photography by Jeff Brinn Photography

Ministry at 20 Monroe Live

Band – Ministry

Band Origin – Chicago, IL

Genre – Industrial Metal

Date – April 11, 2018

Author – Jon Beatty

Show Location – 20 Monroe Live

Ministry Puts on a Rememberable Industrial Show for GR

20 Monroe has had a wide array of acts christen the new venue over the year it has been open. Wednesday’s show saw the legendary Ministry bring their brand of politically charged industrial metal to Grand Rapids with Chelsea Wolfe and The God Bombs rounding out the bill with their own genre defying musical stylings.

Chelsea Wolfe is an artist that transcends any one genre, but is the perfect amalgamation of crushingly hypnotic grooves with haunting ethereal vocals that easily lulls even the staunchest of concert goers into a tantalizing trance.

As whole the show encapsulated a lot of the things I enjoy about seeing shows of this level. While the crowd was sparse at best for Chelsea Wolfe and The God Bombs, it’s one of those experiences where it leaves you feeling like you’re a part of an intimate performance that only those in the know are aware of… one of those sets that people talk about for years to come that add to the legacy of those artists before they break through to that next level.

The crowd eagerly anticipated Uncle Al and the rest of the members that make up this incarnation of Ministry to take the stage.

Coming out to “I Know Words” and “Twilight Zone”, the opening tracks off the band’s latest release, “AmeriKKKant” set the tone for the evening of punishing guitars and thundering drums and a stage show that fought one’s eye for attention between the band and the anti war/political images that flashed across a screen behind the band.

 

In short Ministry aurally assaulted the crowd in every aspect of the word, but in the most enjoyable way possible.

Speaking on their latest album, it was intriguing to me was how much of the new album Ministry played on this touring cycle. While this was “AmeriKKKant” tour, seeing the commitment to playing 7 of the 9 songs that make up said release is something that you just don’t see many bands do in this day and age. Especially a band with as rich of back catalogue that spans decades as Ministry’s does.

While newer songs like “Antifa” and “Wargasm” might not be as well known, juxtaposed against classic staples like “Just One Fix” or “N.W.O” (from their seminal 1992 release Psalm 69) showcases that a lot of these newer songs fit in more than you might realize initially, while also speaking to the consistency of the bands 3 decade career fully on display.

Another surprise was when Burton C Bell, singer for Fear Factory, came out to reprise his role on the three songs he leant his voice to from the new album (Victims of a Clown, We’re Tired of It and Wargasm respectively). While Ministry are no strangers to working with a variety of musicians, this is one of the few instances I can think of where a band takes out that guest on the full tour to have them do those parts. Though now that I’ve seen it executed so well here, I’m hoping other bands take note and try and do this as well, as Burton actually being there added another level to the live show that a backing track just couldn’t replicate.

Speaking to having guests on this tour, original singer Chris Connelly joined the band during their show in Chicago for the first time in 15 years to perform the song “So What”, so goes to prove you never know who could pop up on this tour.

30 plus years into their career Ministry prove that they are still a force to be reckoned with.

A band that’s comprised of some of the tightest players in the genre, with ex members of Static X and Society One among their ranks, their live show is full of hits and provide an audio and visual assault that puts the focus on the corruption of our political system over the years, and it’s weird to hear lyrics about Bush Sr. all these years later when put next to those about Trump, and realize how not much has changed in the the approach to Ministry’s music.

The only gripe, over the 16(ish) song career spanning set the band played, they somehow didn’t play arguably one of the bands biggest hits, Jesus Built My Hotrod. Would definitely recommend anyone who’s remotely a fan of Ministry to go see this tour and get their early to catch Chelsea Wolfe.

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