Growing up in Northern Illinois and then spending the better part of a decade living in Chicago during the ‘90s, it’s no surprise that Ministry were a big part of that time in my life. My first taste came from their third studio release, 1988’s The Land of Rape and Honey; I was immediately hooked. Their 1989 follow-up, The Mind is a Terrible Thing to Taste, just reeled me in even further. They were a key element that introduced a diehard metalhead to the industrial genre, bridging the gap between the heavy sounds I’ve always loved and the new emerging technology. During my university days in Chicago, Psalm 69 came out in 1992 and solidified my love for Ministry; it became the soundtrack for my life in the windy city. Over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to see Ministry perform live on several occasions, including Lollapalooza in 1992 and Chicago Open Air in 2016.
The 2022 Industrial Strength Tour hit Kansas City on April 6th at the Midland Theatre, close to the end of the 35-date run. Experimental pioneers Melvins offered direct support for Ministry, while veteran metal act Corrosion of Conformity opened the evening with some sludgy goodness oozing out of their Orange amplifiers.
Raleigh, North Carolina metal titans Corrosion of Conformity kicked off the evening with instrumental “Bottom Feeder (El Que Come Abajo)” off 1996 release Wiseblood. Frontman Pepper Keenan, guitarist Woody Weatherman, bassist Mike Dean, and drummer John Green, tore through the upbeat psychedelic sludge of “Paranoid Opioid” from In the Arms of God (2005). The set included fan favorites like “Vote With a Bullet,” “Albatross,” and closing out the set, of course, the enduring classic CoC track, “Clean My Wounds.”
Melvins took the stage next, starting off the set with the funky groove of “The Kicking Machine,” followed by “It’s Shoved.” Sporting his signature aluminum six-string by Electrical Guitar Company (EGC), King Buzzo roamed the stage with his iconic hair and black robes while bassist Steven McDonald took every opportunity to jump in the air and spent a lot of time interacting with the audience. This was my first time seeing Melvins live, and their set was a blast! This band is a lot of fun to see perform live. Another highlight of the Melvins’ set came towards the end with Ministry drummer, Ray Mayorga, joining the trio onstage for double-drummer versions of “Hooch” and “Honey Bucket.”
The stage was finally prepped and ready for Ministry to take control. A chain-link fence spanning the entire width of the stage was set up at the front, adding to the urban industrial vibe of the stage set. As we waited for Ministry to take the stage, a large projection backdrop displayed support for the people struggling in Ukraine. The band started off with the seminal track, “Breathe”, from 1989’s The Mind is a Terrible Thing to Taste,” as Ministry founder and frontman Al Jourgensen prowled the stage shouting the chorus, “Breathe, you fucker!”, a warning to the world of the imminent environmental calamity to come.
Ministry’s setlist on the Industrial Strength Tour was incredible for me personally because it spanned almost exclusively across my three favorite albums that I mentioned earlier, The Land of Rape and Honey, The Mind is a Terrible Thing to Taste, and Psalm 69. They performed all the great and memorable tracks like “Deity,” “Stigmata,” and “The Missing” from The Land of…, and classics like “Burning Inside,” “Thieves,” and “So What” from The Mind is… Also, back-to-back tracks from Psalm 69, “N.W.O.” and “Just One Fix.” However, it wasn’t until the encore that they finally played a few songs off the most recent album, 2021’s Moral Hygiene, which marks the 15th studio release from Ministry. Starting the encore with “Alert Level,” followed by “Good Trouble.” The final song of the night was a cover of the Iggy and the Stooges classic, “Search and Destroy,” which is also featured on Moral Hygiene.
The Industrial Strength Tour is almost over but I’m glad I had the opportunity to see these three unique bands play on the same stage. The tour offered a lot of variety in musical styles and the audience in Kansas City spanned several generations of fans. Ministry had a huge impact on my musical upbringing and it’s wonderful to see that legacy play out on stage. After two years of setbacks and delays throughout the music industry, it’s hard to put into words the feeling of being at a show again.