Into the Pit: 063: Ministry – Live at Academy, Manchester – 29-May 2008

I’ve done a good job in recent years in catching up with a number of bands that I missed in my younger years, that became huge influences on the music that I listen to and the music that I play when DJing. And happily enough, all of them have lived up to their reputation – until now.

Live @ Academy, Manchester
29 May 2008

We missed support act Profane entirely (although I understand their set was cut short due to “technical difficulties”), partly due to the fact that the queue outside the venue was enormous, and partly because we really weren’t all that bothered. So we eventually get in, in good time for Ministry to appear. The venue (Academy 1) has been enlarged and refurbed since I was last there a few years back, and is now a cavernous shell of a venue, and I’m not totally convinced it is actually an improvement. In addition, there were huge gaps in the crowd, and it wasn’t half as busy as the upgrade of the gig to Academy 1 suggested.

After a lengthy wait (made longer by the playing of an entire Revolting Cocks track that seemed to last forever), Al and his hired hands arrive to a thunderous welcome…and proceed to bore us senseless for the next hour-and-ten minutes.

It wasn’t that the songs were bad, per se – it was more the choice of songs that was the problem. Despite this being a farewell tour – and on that token you might expect something resembling a celebration of the band’s career, perhaps – Al decided in his wisdom to “treat” us to loads of material from the trilogy of recent albums. And even worse, he covered each album in turn. So firstly we got five from The Last Sucker, then four from Houses of the Molé, and then four from Rio Grande Blood.

Ministry Setlist:
Let’s Go!
The Dick Song
Watch Yourself
Life Is Good
The Last Sucker
No “W”
Rio Grande Blood
Señor Peligro
Lies Lies Lies
Khyber Pass

Encore 1:
So What
Just One Fix

Encore 2:
Just Got Paid
Roadhouse Blues

Encore 3:
What A Wonderful World/Jesus Built My Hotrod

Ok, I’ll admit – bits of this were ace. Particularly the thunderous opener Let’s Go, and the particularly old-school thrills of Worthless. The NWO redux of No “W” was fun, and Señor Peligro and Lies Lies Lies were both awesome bursts of rage, too. However, this stacking of new-ish and not-so-familiar material, in the main, proved to be a huge turn-off for an older-looking crowd that were clearly looking for more than this, and indeed by the end of the dull, never-ending Khyber Pass that closed the main set, many had already voted with their feet.

As the encore got going, the slightly muddy sound that plagued parts of the set (and we were stood two thirds of the way back to the sound-desk, right in the middle) disguised the intro to the first of the “older” songs that everyone had wanted to hear in the first place – So What – which was more of a relief to hear than anything else. A much-changed N.W.O (missing off the intro in particular) reduced the impact of a once-great song, but things were nearly redeemed by a brutal Just One Fix (perhaps one of the few moments in the entire night where everything sounded as it should, and Al actually bothered to put any real effort in), followed by an even better, and thunderous Thieves – one of the few moments where the entire crowd finally came to life.

And that, perhaps, should have been where it ended. But no, Al wanted to promote the recent covers album, so we were, er, treated to Ministry doing ZZ Top (!) and The Doors – the latter of which was considerably more effective. And lastly, finally – on the third encore – was a truly dreadful, caterwauled murdering of What A Wonderful World, that only took the piss even more when the final refrain was “sung” over the riff to the immortal Jesus Built My Hotrod.

I was thinking “thanks Al, we’ll miss you”. But maybe we won’t. If he can’t be arsed, why should we? Ministry have been a vitally important band in the development of metal and industrial over the years, with a large number of fans that have stuck with them now for a long time – and last night felt like a big “fuck you” from Al, frankly – not what I would have hoped for.

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