The best thing about going to a Ministry concert is that you will definitely fit in. You find all types of people in the queue outside. Punks, metallers, teenagers, balding thirty-somethings, those weird pale androgynous industrial types and even a few normals had found their way to the new look Student Union for tonight’s show, which would turn out to be one of the specials shows of the year.
Despite some confusion of getting into the venue, I managed to get in just in time for opening act Djerv. Ministry don’t normally take support bands out with them, so this was a big chance and the Norwegians grabbed it with both hands. Vocalist Agnete Kjølsrud appeared on stage shrouded in a black hood for the start of their short but packed set. The diverse crowd lapped it up the filthy rock n roll sound and no doubt they made a few more fans for their return in December.
After a relatively short changeover soundtracked by Motörhead (big clue as to how loud the next couple of hours were going to be) the lights went down and the big screen fired up with a giant apparition of Al Jourgensen talking through the intro to ‘Ghouldiggers’ from their latest album “Relapse”. The main set was drawn from the last decade of the bands prolific career, showcasing some of the angriest and most politically motivated material, in particular the quartet of ‘Rio Grande Blood’, ‘No W’, ‘Senor Peligro’ and ‘Lies, Lies, Lies’ to remind us, in the worlds of the Reverend Al “reminds us just how fucked up the US Government is”.
Accompanying the band was the large video screen which ran throughout the show, showing various images from rotting animals on a loop during ‘Worthless’, gory killings from Rambo during ‘Watch Yourself’ and a giant dancing Al during ‘The Last Sucker’. The sound although almost deafening at times, never compromised quality for volume and the ending double of ‘Khyber Pass’ and ‘Double Tap’ left the crowd gagging for more.
The packed Debating Hall (still can’t get used to the Academy 2 title) knew that wasn’t the end of the show, and they were proved right, although not many could have foreseen the epic encore that was about to unfold. Every band has the arsenal of one or two crowd pleasers that are left for the end of a show but not many can rival a set of ‘Psalm 69’, ‘N.W.O.’, ‘Just One Fix’, ‘Thieves’ and ‘So What’. Each song got a better reaction than the last and even after that, the crowd still wanted more, so out they came again for one last song. Walking out with a fresh beer Al addressed the crowd and said “Manchester, you are funny people, we might play one last song, but first I’m gonna have one last beer”.
Aside from the song selection, there was something about Al and the rest of the band that suggested this show was a little different. It wasn’t just the smaller venue than in previous shows that gave it a more intimate feel. The lack of the cages made you feel more a a part of the night and Al’s demeanour was different to when I had seen them before, much more upbeat, managing to score a joint form someone in the crowd and making sure the rest of the band didn’t miss out on it. A band on top form and everyone left hoping that this comeback was more than just a one off.
Ministry set list:
Ghouldiggers – Rio Grande Blood – No W – Senor Peligro – LiesLiesLies – 99 Percenters – Watch Yourself – Life Is Good – Waiting – Worthless – Relapse – The Last Sucker / Double Tap – – Psalm 69 – N.W.O. – Just One Fix – Thieves – So What – United Forces
Photographs taken by Sabrina Ramdoyal.