It’s a busy day event wise. The majority of people had gone to the fireworks display that is Rammstein in Milton Keynes and many were moaning that Ministry were not on that bill. Quite honestly I’m glad they weren’t and can’t think of anything worse than attending a massive rammed stadium show to see them. With the history behind the Al Jourgensen industrial machine why the hell should they either. Speaking of stadium shows over at Wembley The Who were apparently not so packing them in and at £215 a ticket that’s hardly surprising either.
As we start filing into The Empire it’s time for Grave Lines to play their biggest show to date and although I hadn’t intended covering this gig (hence crappy camera phone shots) the note pad came out and scribbling began as the London band’s hefty and brutal sludge laden sound was quick to win over. It really cuts through the crowd and moves people toward the front. Ministry fans normally don’t particularly care about supports but with Jake Harding delivering both ugly and harmonious clean vocals there’s a real contrast that makes people witnessing them for the first time more than a little curious. Some fragrant and blues laden parts have a Doors etched touch but songs quickly divulge into a hateful heave and there’s no denying this is actually quite a good match for the might of the headliners. Songs are long with plenty going on in them and in line with this we are told they just have 1 and a half left. Bathed in pastel light a warm glow spreads and one of the bands poetic and chilled parts unspools reminding a little of something from the more folky end of Julian Cope’s repertoire along with a splash of Nick Cave. Guitars then strum, a hellish yell is unleashed and a tortured nightmarish vision caves in skulls and really leaves an impression; certainly enough for me to grab latest album Fed Into The Nihilist Engine from the merch stall. Hopefully I was far from alone in doing so.
3Teeth are pretty damn popular at the moment and have stepped up from last playing The Electrowerkz to here. Flamboyant looking lead singer Alexis Mincolla seems happy about this and also gives Rammstein a bit of a dig as they set to pumping out the beats to the now rammed downstairs part of the venue. A couple of listens to latest album Metawar had set the way for me and what I like about the band’s sound is that they are happy to diversify and fit elements of industrial, EBM and even synth-pop into their sound. Everything from Front Line Assembly to Skinny Puppy and Marilyn Manson can be heard among their twisted visions and they quickly get people bouncing around. New songs like ‘EXXXIT’ go down well and with its ‘I can’t do it, I won’t do it’ vocal clamour and body popping motion, ‘Dust’ has the rest of us joining in. We are told we are rocking and rolling too hard, security down the front don’t look too impressed but they won’t be stopping this particular party. I think this is a band who need time spent before the songs stick in your head, after they finish with Master Of Decay the set is a bit of a haze with nothing particularly memorable but I put that down to my lack of familiarity as much as anything else. It’s that old cliché about the band making some new friends tonight and I’d definitely consider myself among them.
It’s been a while since last seeing Ministry, too damn long in fact and despite not really gelling with Amerikkkant a quick listen again today set things up for the first part of the set which is basically a play-through of the entire album. In this format from the opening visual and tape rendered Trumpty Bumpty via Ralph Wiggums ‘I Say Words’ with the messiah of stupidity that is the USA president on a big screen, things make a lot more sense. As ‘Twilight Zone’ has the players stoking up their armoury and Uncle Al striding on stage to rock out behind his elaborate mic-stand the place explodes in the centre and does not let up throughout the set. I look around at the rest of them noting Cesar Soto wearing a glowing mask stage right and Sin Quirin on the left blazing away on guitars. The stage is big enough to have some action on the percussion and keyboards and the deluge from the band is full on and suitably mental. Speed, intensity and samples fire out at an almost impossible rate to keep up with and it feels like being slapped non-stop around the face. Wargasm warps my head, I still think it has elements of another song we will get to later and you can tell the band are tight as fuck. Not much speech as ever from the frontman just a “this one’s called” insert song title here. I guess the words of the songs say it all. Naturally Antifa is one that sends everyone mental, I would love to agree with the sentiments of that one more but many involved are a right bunch of ballsacks targeting the wrong bands and spreading militant censorship in all the wrong ways. Game Over proves stealth can be just as deadly as violence vocals rise to the point of distortion, the world feels like its ending and we dance on its ashes.
5 minutes and they are back with some golden oldies, the part of the set many of us have been waiting for and if you have read this far I am sure you know what is to come. They have been playing some of these songs for well over 3 decades and the might and machinery is oiled to perfection. Unexpectedly Deity is the one that sticks out for me, notes go out the window quite honestly as I am trying to stay on feet in the middle of the frenzy amidst a crowd (including 2 guys in banana suits wtf) going absolutely nuts. Everyone chants along top of voices to one of the best songs ever rendered to plastic Stigmata and if I could close eyes and remain upright visions of an errant killer cyborg would be going round in the head. More hardware continues, we get aboard the hotrod and ding a ling ding, watch Burroughs as Wargasm precursor Just One Fix is jacked up and go mad for N.W.O. and Thieves. I had been looking forward to the last song immensely as had noted they had been doing Revolting Cocks classic No Devotion at other dates but Al gave a choice of that or an acoustic Everyday Is Halloween in the dying minutes before curfew. Agh they picked the latter and surely that was predetermined. Slightly gutted it was time to leave but despite that personal disappointment there’s no denying Ministry were on fire tonight, pumped up and vitriolic as ever, long may this continue.