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Ministry, Meshuggah @ The Fillmore, 4/1/08

April 2, 2008

Dressed in black, goths of all ages congregated at The Fillmore last night. It was to be Ministry’s last tour, a nostalgic send off with special guest Meshuggah.

Meshuggah(meaning: ‘crazy’ in Yiddish. Random.), from Sweden, was the next best thing to seeing Dethklok. One should realize that when the singer mic checks by saying, “I love drugs. I love pussy. I love drugs and pussy. These are my two favorite things.”, you’d better put your seatbelt on. A quick glance around the room, and I think I’m the only girl in there. Oh wait, that one over there is a girl…barely. Meshuggah’s intense set of hair, screams, and screeches was the most widespread crowd pleaser of the night. It’s the kind of music that, even as a chick, gets my testosterone pumping. This band definitely has an aire of danger; it’s a smileless, colorless world of commiserating, where we’re often not sure if we’re hearing Swedish or English, but we don’t care.

It’s at this point that I realize the similarities between this show and last year’s Slayer/Manson combo…there’s a crowd changeover going on the same time as the stage change.

It was my first time seeing Ministry, and I hedged my expectations by doing a little research. I had heard ‘things’, namely, don’t expect a greatest hits show. The newer material is heavily political, the lineup is different, etc., etc. But, the press release said:

For its spectacular two-and-a-half-hour “C U LaTouR” set, Ministry will perform tracks from “The Last Sucker” as well as songs that revisit the band’s rich and provocative 30-year musical history. Archival Ministry videos plus other visual elements of alchemy, Christianity, politics and other topics aligned with Ministry will be incorporated into a special video presentation, produced by “Wicked Lake” director Zach Passero (with whom Jourgensen is collaborating on the soundtrack for the feature film) that will change night to night. And, as is expected from a Ministry show, you just never know what surprise guests will jump on stage for a song or two.

It sold a ticket then and there.

Early reviews I read revealed a mostly foreign setlist, which many message board posters hypothesized was a hoax. Then Spin publishes a review discussing the hits performed. I’m confused…

The original setlist was right. It’s heavy on the post-2003, anti-Bush hook-deprived material. The sound was good, the songs, OK, but it was not what we were there for.

The stage set up included a baseball field style fence, which is quite metaphorical. What Jourgenson wants to perform is not what the audience wants to hear, and therefore a wall is built up that prevents the artist and audience from fully connecting. Well into the set, people must have started letting him know their feelings, as he started telling them “Fuck you. I am not a jukebox. Fuck you.” Well, if you sell people tickets with the promise of old material, you better be my fucking jukebox. You knew where people would go when that press release came out.

Jourgensen’s mic stand featured his trademark animal horn accouterments. He wore his usual scarf, dread-like hair, and eye makeup…but while I can’t pinpoint it, I just couldn’t shake the feeling that I just wasn’t buying it all. The thought crossed my mind that he might walk off stage, and take of the headband and wig like the lead singer does in Rock Star. Yes, I saw that movie. Perhaps it was a combo of the lack of hits, little connection with the audience, and strange little things like his walking over and reading something between songs.

This is starting to sound worse than it was. Their sound is still there, and The Fillmore is like drinking wine from the right glass, it just makes the sound better. Even though I didn’t know many of the songs, I still enjoyed being consumed by that all encompassing industrial sound.

Encore number one featured one of my favorite songs, the only one that would be played- Thieves. I love that song, and it was worth the ticket price just to hear it live. The strange and disruptive thing about this encore was that the vocals were mostly done by Burt Bell of Fear Factory. I had read this before, so it wasn’t a surprise, but that didn’t make it any less weird. Jourgensen was almost nonexistent for the rest of the show, doing the occasional back up vocals. It was kind of a big fuck you to the crowd- a ‘here are a couple of hits, but I’m not gonna sing them’.

The second encore was reminiscent of last year’s Metallica Bridge School set. The show ended with 3 covers, which were interesting but bordered on comical. Metallica showed me that beginning a set with cover songs is not a good idea, and now Ministry showed me that ending a set with cover songs is also not the best idea. Especially when the vocals are done by someone else…but they are releasing an entire album of covers, so there you go.

Amazingly, the crowd mostly went along with it all. Blame it on drugs, a hunger for all sounds industrial, or love for Ministry; many people, including me, were having a pretty good time. It’s just a shame that the tools were all there, but the fire wasn’t ignited. I was left imaging numerous what if set lists filled with Stigmata, What About Us, Psalm 69, Jesus Built My Hotrod, and The Land of Rape and Honey.

While we may have left that night feeling slightly like April Fools, part of the sting was muted by- guess- a Fillmore poster! They must have read my entry. And thanks for the guitar pick, Sin.

One last thing- why has Uncle Al disowned Everyday is Halloween? It’s one of my all time favorite songs. I don’t get it when bands refuse to play some of their best material….

Ministry setlist (from pissarmy)

Let’s Go
The Dick Song
Watch Yourself
Life Is Good
The Last Sucker
No W
Rio Grande Blood
Senor Peligro
Khyber Pass

1st encore:
(Burton Bell sings all songs from here on)
Just One Fix

2nd encore:
Roadhouse Blues (The Doors)
Just Got Paid (ZZ Top)
Under My Thumb (The Rolling Stones)

OVERALL: 7.5/10
Ministry performance: 6.5/10
Meshuggah performance: 8/10
venue (The Fillmore): 8/10
crowd/scene: 7.5/10
value ($38.50/ticket): 6/10
memorable: 7/10


haightbum’s vid from the show:

other live vid:

rational gaze- their best song:


haightbum’s vid from the show, def more for sound than video:

’96 Stigmata footage

Old Thieves footage


  1. I couldn’t agree more about the lame set list. First time I have seen them not do “Supernaut”. And I was convinced Jello Biafra was going to get up there and do some Lard songs with them. I was really kind of bummed to see one of my favorite bands go out like that…

  2. I’m surprised I’m doing this, but I’m going to have to disagree with some of what I read.

    I was not impressed with Meshuggah, until the end, when I began to feel some energy coming from them. Before that, it just didn’t carry enough healthy rhythm for me, I thought I was hearing good beginnings, but then faltering endings, like the band just sort of got into it for a moment and then gave up and moved on. I felt that the singer’s constant moves for “looking evil” with his grins and head twists didn’t really appear frightening and cool so much as kind of funny.

    As for the stage set, I liked it, and I considered it very “industrial” and a good move, since I’ve seen one too many band members get hit by something. In some instances, I think it’s expected that the band is up close and personal, and in others, I like the separation, it makes the band more of a representation of something untouchable, something unobtainable, and you’re simply left to watch. Then again I could just be an idiot and I missed the point.

    Regarding the setlist, I love the hits that everyone else does, of course, it’s why they’re hits, but I like it when bands play less popular things. To me, it’s like the band plays whatever they choose to play, and I think that the fans should like it anyway simply because you’re there to see a band play it’s music, not play just the songs you know or like, that’s rather an insult to the band, I would think. Lets say you put out a lot of work on such and such song, and no one gave a damn because it wasn’t a hit, that wouldn’t be fair.

    However, I do believe that at least a nice handful of popular tracks should be played, just to keep the crowd comfortable with what they know and love, and of course, ending with a song the crowd shouts for more than any other I think is virtually a necessity to a great show. And because of this, I will agree with you there that they didn’t do enough of the hits that I think most people would have liked and ending with a cover wasn’t the best idea, but it wasn’t that bad, was it?

    I liked the covers. However, I could have done fine with just one, not three.

    As for Burt Bell, it was a nice surprise I thought, but I did have to frown that he sang “Just one Fix” instead of Al.

    I wasn’t surprised or bothered by Al’s behavior. I found it funny and typical of him, so it didn’t faze me much at all.

    But I know that being a long-time fan of Ministry and having seen them before, obviously influences my opinion in a certain direction, which is probably why I’ve disagreed so much. I don’t mean to come off as condescending or rude to other opinions, and I hope that I didn’t make that impression here. Different strokes for different folks, as they say.

    But seriously, good review! You were really thorough and to the point, something I think some reviewers lack often.

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