Setting the Stage: Having released the album AmeriKKKant earlier this year, industrial pioneers Ministry were playing the second show of a two-night stand at New York’s Irving Plaza, as part of their fall North American tour in support of the politically charged disc. Frontman Al Jourgensen has made no secret of his disdain for President Trump, telling us in a recent interview, “When we wrote [AmeriKKKant] was literally right when he got elected, and I know a con when I see one.” So, we were expecting Uncle Al and company to bring some anti-Trump sentiment to the show, which featured support from French electronic artist Carpenter Brut and New Zealand thrash metal upstarts Alien Weaponry.
Taking the Stage: With the AmeriKKKant track “I Know Words” playing, the members of Ministry began to walk out on stage, launching into the track “Twilight Zone” featuring a distorted sample of Donald Trump saying, “We will make America great again.” Jourgensen was last to hit the stage, taking his place behind a custom illuminated cross-shaped mic stand, and looking like the veteran ringleader of an anarchist music collective, as some band members wore bandanas and masks to obscure their faces to start the set. In addition to Jourgensen, the touring band is comprised of guitarists Sin Quirin and Cesar Soto, bassist Tony Campos, keyboardist John Bechdel, and drummer Derek Abrams.
It was soon apparent that we were going to get a run of Amerikkant songs to start the show, with “Victims of a Clown” and “We’re Tired of It” following. In fact the entire first half of the set was devoted to the new album, with “Antifa” among the highlights, as masked stage performers took the stage waving anarchy flags.
A mosh pit broke out right from the beginning, and lasted throughout the show, featuring a mix of pugnacious participants who looked like they ranged from 18 to 60 years old. Heck, there was even one guy sporting a sweet Hanukkah sweater in the pit, throwing down on the sixth night of the Festival of Lights.
After the song “AmeriKKKa” marked seven straight songs from the new album, the band exited the stage, providing an intermission of sorts. Five or so minutes later, Jourgensen returned to the stage, thanking fans for taking the time to enjoy the new stuff, and then letting us know he would be rewarding us with “doggie treats,” otherwise known as a second-half set of classic Ministry songs.
Kicking the second act off with the title track off The Land of Rape and Honey, which recently celebrated its 30th anniversary, Jourgensen and company performed in front of a screen that was projecting an image of Hitler morphing into Trump. Ministry then hit us with three more tracks off the 1988 album, including “The Missing”, “Deity” and “Stigmata”.
Throughout the night, Jourgensen announced each song as it began, with “This one’s called _______,” so there wasn’t any mystery as to what the band was about to perform. He seemed to loosen up during the second act, moving around the stage a little more, looking slim and fit for a man who just turned 60.
Next, we got a double dose of classics from 1992’s Psalm 69 — “Just One Fix” and “N.W.O.” — sending the crowd into a frenzy. The show ended with a pair of favorites from 1989’s The Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Taste — “Thieves” and “So What”, with Jourgensen profusely thanking the Irving Plaza crowd for their warm welcome.
Strong Support: Two very different acts opened up for Ministry, with French electronic artist Carpenter Brut providing direct support. Accompanied by a guitarist and drummer, Brut got the crowd moving with his synthwave beats, getting a good deal of the concertgoers to jump up and down, and in some cases, show off their dance moves.
New Zealand’s Alien Weaponry opened the evening’s festivities, looking like teenage surfer dudes, but playing some brutal groove and thrash metal that evokes early Sepultura. The young band members have Māori ancestry, and incorporate tribal calls into their lyrics, while playing very aggressive music. This impressive teenage trio is primed to be a major player in the metal scene in the near future.
Victims of a Clown
We’re Tired of It
The Land of Rape and Honey
Just One Fix
Photo Gallery: Ministry, Carpenter Brut and Alien Weaponry at New York’s Irving Plaza