Wednesday, April 23, 2003

Concert Review: Ministry, Wednesday, April 22, The Vic

Asked in The Wild One what he was rebelling against, Marlon Brando replied "Whaddya got?" The same could be said of Al Jourgensen. He rebelled against the major label machinery that tried to turn him into Chicago's answer to British synth pop, complete with fake English accent. He rebelled against the Reagan/Bush era. Some of the results were glorious: Ministry's transformation to create loud, snarling, aggressive and inventive music. Okay, there was also that drug abuse. When I told several people about going to see Ministry, they shared the response, "They're still around?!" But with another Bush in the White House and another war with Iraq, Ministry has something to rebel against. Fortunately, now they're doing it just with the music, as Al has reportedly kicked drugs.

In their show at the Vic, Ministry created an impressive din. They had a pair of drummers and up to three guitars going at once. Songs like "N.W.O." showed that Limp Bizkit and their nu-metal ilk are petty whiners and wusses in comparison. On the other hand, large chunks of the show were just about the din without enough shape to the songs. One doesn't expect any open space in a Ministry composition, but at least "Stigmata" was punctuated with a distinctive guitar riff.

Paul Barker is still thin enough to go shirtless. On the other hand, with his added girth and impish dancing, Al looked like Silent Bob. He also looked joyous to be performing. When Chris Connelly joined them on stage to take over vocals, Al gave him several heartfelt hugs and used the break to repeatedly stage dive. Ministry make me proud to live in Chicago.

No comments: