Ministry - The Industrial Strength Tour - Celebrating 30 Years of The Mind is a Terrible Thing to Taste and the release of Moral Hygiene With special guests: Melvins and Corrosion of Conformity
Writing and Photography by: Bobby Talamine
Edited by: Fiza Javid
Riviera Theatre Chicago - Thursday 3/31/22
A live review without a script.
A live review without pre- planned notes or researching.
Not that there needs to be-
Rock n' Roll- especially "Industrial Strength" rock n' roll, when performed live, only has a setlist somewhat as a guide, along with the occasional mix samples to kind of keep things on track.
This show- with Ministry, along with openers Melvins and Corrosion of Conformity, has been weighing heavily on my mind since last Thursday, vacating the Riviera at shows end, heavily in sweat, only to find a parking ticket on my car.
And I don't care.
That parking ticket was not in any way gonna dampen my mood, and make the drive home ugly.
But man - what I witnessed and photographed, both form the pit and also the back of the house was so refreshing and mind bogglingly audio pummeling awesome.
Lost count how many body surfers I saw- all shapes and sizes, some guys looking linebacker size- some 250 pounds and up.
And from my vantage point, Al looked like the supportive referee- noticing with side glances said bodysurfers if they floated past his way, with an occasional nod, but no thumbs up for approval.
Back in the early days of Ministry shows, Revolting Cocks shows- this was all too common, even with Al sometimes getting in on the action, depending on mood, and various chemical substances.
So yes- this show was amped to eleven, what with celebrating "The Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Taste"- with plenty of offerings from that release, opening with "Breathe", a testament for being alive and getting off your ass, along with "Burning Inside", "Thieves", and of course the heavy hitter "So What".
Mind you, we have a new release to contend with as well- "Moral Hygiene", which was released back in October of 2021, and finally now getting the time to play some of these songs live, such as "Alert Level", "Good Trouble", (which both were played during the encore), along with the Iggy Pop cover, "Search & Destroy", which closed out the show.
Let alone "Just One Fix", and the juggernaut from 1000 Homo DJ's- the Black Sabbath cover of "Supernaut".
Yeah- it was that kind of evening.
Bearing witness to days of old, brought to the present day sounding refreshing and new.
This is not a complacent Al Jourgensen at all. This is an Al Jourgensen who has come out from the shit and crap on a personal level of the past, with more fire, more urgency, more of a guy tackling life than I ever seen him.
This goes back to his performance at Chicago's Open Air back in July of 2016, to the present day, with all four shows and tours I've seen of him up to the show at the Riviera with Al in full battle form, working his songs up to a lather of fright and might.
You really really want him to succeed, to create, to dive deep into his catalog and make them sound like they were meant to be played when originally created, mistakes, and warts and all.
And he does, at least from what I've witnessed.
Part of that is also owed to Jourgensen's band as well, picking players that can push the envelope and bring the heavy artillery: with Paul D'Amour on bass, Cesar Soto on guitars, Monte Pittman on guitars, Roy Mayorga on drums, and John Bechdel manning the keyboards and samples.
This band is good. Really good.
And this band allows Al the freedom to thrive and focus on what's needed most- a renegade preacher with lots and lots to say- and not worry about band miscues.
If you're a seasoned Al Jourgensen and overall Ministry observer- you know these things are important, and again, you want to see Al so desperately succeed, and look like he's enjoying life- enjoying the moment.
And again from my vantage points throughout the show- from the opener "Breathe", until his last breath with the closer "Search & Destroy"- he does.
A Ministry show and tour to represent of this caliber does not go unnoticed, and ranks up there in my mind with shows from way back at Medusa's. It was that good.
As for Melvins- with the mighty Buzz Osborne front and center, along with Dale Crover on all things drums, and ever the showman Steven Shane McDonald on bass- these guys, even though opening along with Corrosion of Conformity, opened with the theme from "Sanford and Son", (which was awesome / laugh out loud funny), and then proceeded to trailblaze through a set with some 12 songs total from their entire weave- opening with a guitar swirl of feedback punch from Buzz with "The Kicking Machine", into "It's Shoved", and then the gargantuan sludge / grunge of "Anaconda".
Now that's a three song intro into a set concrete pounder.
And for a three piece, playing with all this might front and center, and watching over the proceedings is the character Endora, from the TV sitcom of the '60's, "Bewitched" - which when you think of it, plays a major part of casting wicked spells over the masses and band.
Such is the case with Melvins, standup / knock you off your feet performance always, but also with a dollop of sly authenticated humor.
What you gotta love with all things Buzz Osborne and Melvins, is that their heart and musical catalog of influences are all over the place, picking up on mashing up of punk, and yet a deep desire to bring in some doom, ala Black Sabbath.
"Evil New War God", or even the song "Honeybucket"...c'mon man- you're not alive if you're not headbanging the shit out of those two nuggets.
Like I said- they have a 12 song setlist- nothing mamby pamby throughout.
Melvins save the set and coming up for air after they've long left the stage.
Same holds true for Corrosion of Comformity- another band that's stayed tried and true and survived the test of time, knowing and embracing loud, with some more loud, followed by punishing feedback when needed.
Have been a huge fan of Pepper Keenan and his band for years.
Such a great triple bill of unique bands, proud of their genres, each bringing something unique and memorable to the party.
And a party it was on a Thursday night in Chicago
Bobby Talamine - JBTV Music Television Chicago