red lights

Aging and Still Angry

The Vic
Chicago, IL
April 22, 2003
Ministry Ministry

Story and Photos by Andy Argyrakis

For a group entering its second decade of performing together, Ministry sure hasn't backed down from its fireball guitars, pummeling drums, pulverizing electronics and brash lyrical assaults. Such a flame throwing style is only natural for founding singer/songwriter Al Jourgensen and primary collaborative partner Paul Barker, who since shedding their dance/rock period after the monumental Twitch recording in 1986 have consistently gone balls to the wall album after album. Their latest Animositisomina (the word 'animosity' spelled forwards and backwards, minus the 'y') is a fitting continuation of the chaos found on 1999's Dark Side of the Spoon, complete with its piercing boldness, brooding imagery, and no nonsense confrontations on all facets. Thanks to Jourgensen and Barker's aggressiveness, along with a rambunctious rhythm section and dueling drummers backing the duo, such elements from that album and other Ministry material from the last decade were recreated with equal vigor at its Chicago appearance.
Ministry The group began the set with a barrage of back breakers from that very record, starting with the merciless tire slashes of "Animosity," followed by the harrowing rippery of "Unsung" and "Piss." Dark Side of the Spoon alum "Supermanic Soul" fit into a similar category of tunes fueled by monstrous riffs and confrontational drum advances, though it also leaned towards a more menacing, slightly industrial feel. Even better examples of that technological drive were culled from the late 80s to mid-90s albums when Ministry rode their second career crest following early hits like "Everyday Is Halloween " and "Work For Love" (both of which have been unfortunately ignored in concert for over a decade and a half). Cuts like 1989's "Thieves" and the following year's "Stigmata" took on a metallic glow complete with distorted electronic wallops, which were practically balanced by the enhancement free revelry of "Psalm 69" and the blistering bone crunch of "Filth Pig."
In spite of Ministry's ability to hold everyone at the Vic within their intimidating grips throughout the nearly two-hour show, the night also had its share of drawbacks. The most prevalent was the fact that after awhile some of the aforementioned selections (along with others like "Breathe," "Hero" and "Reload") were interpreted under such like minded pretenses that they became a headache prompting blur. By the time the group reached their encore, I must admit my cranium was on the verge of throbbing and unless I hadn't written down songs as each was being performed, they would have most likely escaped my memory due to the sonic similarities.
The other main downfall was Jourgensen's energy depletion, which by the set's midpoint lacked the venomous stalker-like qualities of the beginning half. By the time the slithering "So What" made it's way into the set an hour after lift off, his microphone stand (adorned up with snake shaped handlebars) became more like a resting ledge than a lethal weapon. Even after encoring, that early evening magnetism was never fully revived, but by the time Ministry closed with a cover of Magazine's "The Light Pours Out of Me," at least they'd whipped the crowd into a raging mosh pit fury strong enough to punch its way through the venue's walls.


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