Unless it’s a bands debut album, it’s unheard of that anyone plays every song from their latest release. In fact, most veteran bands will only play a few cuts off the very album they’re promoting. Of course, Ministry has never done things conventionally, so it wasn’t shocking to hear that the band would be playing their critically acclaimed AmeriKKKant front to back on their fall U.S. tour. Last night in Dallas, the band did just that, then followed it up by celebrating the 30th anniversary of their landmark album The Land of Rape and Honey.
The stage was filled with glowing television sets and the video screen hanging behind the band mixed various psychedelic images with perverse political propaganda as the band worked it’s way through songs like “Twilight Zone,” “Victims of a Clown,” “Antifa,” and “Wargasm.” With little chatter between songs, Ministry main-man Al Jourgensen alternated between harmonica and slide guitar when he wasn’t stalking the stage and inciting the impressively large Wedensday night crowd. Jourgensen was backed by Sin Quirin and Cesar Soto on guitars, Tony Campos on bass, John Bechdel on keyboards/samples, and Derek Abrams behind the kit. Always reliable for a scorching set, the band was spot-on first song to last. This being the 16th date of their current trek, the band was clearly locked-in and picking up every subtle nuance of the complex and layered album. Whether it was the breakneck pace of “We’re Tired Of It” or the sludgy mid-tempo of “Game Over,” the band was clearly relishing the opportunity to play the albums deeper cuts.
When the AmeriKKKant set wrapped, Jourgensen returned to the stage with Bechdel and Abrams for the title track from The Land of Rape and Honey. Until this tour, the band hadn’t played “The Land of Rape and Honey” since 1990. To say that the older folks in the crowd were excited by this would be an understatement – it was certainly a treat. When the band kicked into “The Missing” and “Deity” (with the full band back out on stage) the crowd went ape-shit. The mini Rape and Honey set closed with a searing rendition of “Stigmata” that would turn the pit into a blur of flailing limbs and flying beers. The band would go on to power through the classic tracks “Just One Fix,” “N.W.O.,” and “Thieves,” before closing the evening with the soaring “So What.”
AmeriKKKant is a timely album, not for just the brooding and intense music contained within its 40-some-odd minutes, but for it’s politically charged message. Where some of Ministry’s previous albums have downright attacked past U.S. presidents, AmeriKKKant takes a deeper dive into the circumstances and socio-political context that brought us to where we are today. What’s more, these same circumstances make the lyrical theme of songs like “N.W.O.” and “Land of Rape and Honey,” sadly, timeless.
If you want to see Ministry just for the opportunity to mix it up in the mosh pit and bang your head, they won’t let you down. But, there’s is something deeper going on beneath the crushing guitar riffs and pounding drums. Ministry has always been a provocative and dangerous band. Last nights show confirmed they haven’t lost a step.
– J. Kevin Lynch (words); Corey Smith (photos)
– click to enlarge photos –