A dreary and rainy weekend in Montreal, QC got much worse when opening act Chelsea Wolfe announced a few hours before her set that she was unable to make it to MTelus. The gothic folk singer’s tour bus broke down and she was stuck “in the middle of nowhere.” Wolfe made a video of her haunting song “After the Fall” for her fans heading to the concert, but the last minute cancelation cast a dark shadow over the event.
The show must go on though, and after the start time was changed to an hour later, New York’s The God Bombs came on stage to warm up the crowd before Ministry. The God Bombs played industrial punk rock, blending electronic beats and synths with darker hardcore sounds on songs like the melodic “Socio Path” from their latest album Hex. As a nod to the headliners, the band also covered a classic Ministry track from The Land of Rape and Honey, “Flashback.”
The first time I saw industrial metal pioneers Ministry live was at Lollapalooza in 1992. Back then, George H.W. Bush was in power and a clip from the U.S. president’s infamous “New World Order” speech appeared on one of the band’s signature political protest tunes “N.W.O.” With the 2016 election of Donald Trump, the time was right for Ministry to release a new anti-government album, AmeriKKKant. Although the album received mixed reviews, I was interested to see if Ministry’s live show recaptured some of the blistering angst that made them famous.
Before they hit the stage, two giant white Trump balloons featuring his massive wave of golden hair and a “no-Nazis” symbol on his belly were installed. Then, lead singer and founding member Al Jourgensen emerged, still rocking long dreadlocks and shouting into a megaphone to the delight of the middle-aged men in attendance.
The band opened with a video of Trump’s “Make America Great Again” speech while DJ Swamp scratched a sample of the president saying, “We are going to build a wall.” They started with several tracks off the latest album, including “I Know Words” and “Twilight Zone.” For “Victims of a Clown” and “Wargasm,” Ministry were joined by guest vocalist Burton C. Bell from Fear Factory.
The group’s anti-fascist, anti-Trump shtick was as subtle as a sledgehammer smashing a plate glass window. Both bass drums had an image of the Statue of Liberty doing a “facepalm” taken from the cover of AmeriKKKant. During “Punch in the Face,” an animated video of the president taking a beat down played on the screen. The most shamelessly political track “Antifa” was basically a propaganda song for the leftist movement. Balaclava-wearing protestors waiving the black and red antifa flag came on stage while “We’re not snowflakes, we are the antifa!” blazed across the screen.
Ministry’s fans had to wait until the end of the night for classics from the 80s and 90s. After “Antifa,” Jourgensen said the crowd had “put up with the politics, now we will give you a doggy treat.” The “doggy treat” came in the form of four of the most menacing tracks from the band’s catalogue, “Just One Fix,” “N.W.O,” “So What,” and “Thieves.” That last track was a highlight of the night. It was worth the admission price alone to see Jourgensen bellow into the megaphone “Thieves and Liars” while a drill sample repeated over and over. That relentless drill sound was still pounding in my head for hours after the show.
Written by Rob Coles
Photography by Eric Brisson Photography
*edited by Mike Milito