When the ominous chorus of "Psalm 69" rang out during the first song of Ministry's encore, everyone cheered louder than they had the rest of the night. The chilling music, the sort of thing you'd expect to hear in a movie about a misguided cult or the Antichrist, resounded in the room with the kind of dark majesty and force you could never get from listening to a record. It ended up being the first of a six song encore -- more or less half the length of the show proper.
The first thirteen songs of the set drew from Ministry's most recent five albums, including the opening number, "Ghouldiggers." On the screen, Al Jourgensen appeared as a figure against a red spiral and when he referred to rock stars who died to young like Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix and Kurt Cobain (all dead by 27), each appeared on screen in miniature for a song that is a joyfully vitriolic lambasting of the music industry.
"Rio Grande Blood" had the forcefulness of a fully realized synthesis of thrash and industrial as did "LiesLiesLies." Before and after "99 Percenters," Jourgensen got on the mike and had some choice words about Wall Street that might have come across as a bit heavy handed to some of the audience. Perhaps even preachy. But when you're not someone who was directly involved our current economic dilemma, it's hard to feel too much sympathy for vampires on the body politic and his anger is completely understandable.
A lot of older fans probably didn't know a lot of the newer material, but the band sounded great, and it made songs like "Waiting" and "Worthless" a bit even harder than you would expect. When the main set ended with "Kyber Pass" with its middle eastern flavorings, it was obvious the band wasn't done and would come back.
We waited about ten minutes or so and after the "Psalm 69," Ministry treated us to "N.W.O.," "Just One Fix," "Thieves" and "So What?" and Jourgensen graciously thanked the audience for being so great this time. Truth be told, this was a stellar audience that knew the words to the old songs and some of the new songs, and no one seemed to be acting the fool. A rarity for any bigger show. So, instead of leaving, the band came back to join Jourgensen and they performed the excellent Stormtroopers of Death cover, "United Forces," a metal classic, and Ministry made the tune its own.
Overcasters opened the show with a strong set drawn mostly from its most recent album. Even though the band's projector was set at an odd angle, the native stage lighting was fantastic and showcased the band well through some light fog. Hard to say why the projector wasn't allowed to be in a better location, but it didn't really hurt the show. The richness of tone was more fully realized for this show than most, and the quartet seemed to be clicking together better than ever. Certainly Overcasters have never sounded better, and its command of the large stage seemed natural.
Blackburner came on in a shroud of fog. Two dancing girls flanked each side of the stage. The two primaries had guitars and wore outfits, including full head masks with glowing eyes and ears, that looked like cybernetic rabbits -- like the rabbit from Donnie Darko went cyberpunk but wasn't even remotely scary anymore.
The music was this electro-industrial dance music that sounded like some guys who were in industrial rock band got on the dubstep bandwagon. It was like the electronica equivalent of seeing "alternative rock" bands who discovered grunge and the Smashing Pumpkins in the late '90s and tried to make it exciting with gimmicks.
Nonethelesss, Blackburner put in a fine performance visually and sonically, even though it honestly felt like you were seeing a joke at first. This band knows how to create dense sounds, so when it gets into the next phase of its development, hopefully, it pushes its hybrid sound into more interesting creative territories. The group's mastery of production was impressive as it integrated several musical ideas into one whole product. Enough people danced enthusiastically to the band, so it's doing something right.
Personal Bias: I've been a Ministry fan since the late '80s.
Random Detail: It looked like the balloons that Blackburner kicked threw into the audience were filled with glitter or some brought some to throw onto the heads of the audience on the floor.
By the Way: Hearing "Smothered Hope" by Skinny Puppy over the P.A. courtesy of DJ Dave Vendetta was great.
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