Review: Ministry + Godflesh, Melbourne

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Ministry + Godflesh
The Corner Hotel, Melbourne.
24 February 2015
Review by Anthony Moore
Photo by Sofie Marsden

Whether you saw them in ’95 during their BDO tour or not, Australian Ministry fans have waited 20 long years to see them play live on our shores again. It’s a clichéd term but there really was a massive buzz throughout The Corner Hotel and spilling out onto the street in anticipation of the sold out show that was to come; two massive originators of the industrial metal genre, Ministry from the US and the openers Godflesh from the UK.

Godflesh came out to an already quickly filling room. Images projected onto screens either side of the band room as well as around its back wall; black and white crosses, medieval art and distorted orange and red looking lava melted as faces peered through the chaos. The band has been around in various forms since ’88 and currently touring as the original well known drummerless two-piece line up of Justin Broadrick (vocals, guitars, programming) and G.C. Green (bass, programming).

Godflesh illustrate perfectly that ‘heavy’ doesn’t have to mean constant layer upon layer of noise. The at times sparseness of their sound is still very deep and bludgeoning, repetitive in its nature and utterly hypnotising with punters banging heads in a trance like state. The sheer power of the bass and programmed beats resonated up through our bones. GODFLESH aren’t merely heard, they’re deeply felt.

They played tracks mostly off their first three albums from between 1989 and 1992 including ‘Like Rats’, Christbait Rising’, ‘Streetcleaner’, ‘Spite’, ‘Mothra’, ‘Pure’ and ‘Crush My Soul’. The venue was the perfect space to witness Godflesh. They were great at Soundwave but the size of the area lost some of their power and depth. In comparison, the small size of The Corner Hotel just wouldn’t let it escape.

Punters were counting down the minutes until Ministry were about to hit the stage. The bar had been raided and feet firmly planted as close to the front as possible. The band have been through a few line-up changes but after losing two long-time members in co-writer and bassist Paul Barker (leaving in 2003) and guitarist Mike Scaccia (who died in 2012), fans have wondered if Ministry could still bring it like they used to in their heyday. Consisting of a solid line up with main songwriter and founding member Al Jourgensen (vocals, guitar), guitarist Sin Quirin (Revolting Cocks), bassist Tony Campos (Static X, Prong, Soulfly), drummer Aaron Rossi (Prong) and keyboardist John Bechdel (Prong, Fear Factory, Killing Joke), there was nothing to worry about.

From the get-go “I hate all you motherfuckers” and chants of “All Hail His Majesty” were shouted from the speakers as the band started with the song of the same name. Uncle Al sauntered out and grabbed the room by the throat and didn’t let go for the next 90 minutes. The second song kicked in with the anthemic “Punch In The Face” as everyone shouted it back at the stage with unrestrained passion. Ministry have still definitely got it!

As well as the previously mentioned tracks they also opened with ‘Permawar’ and ‘Fairly Unbalanced’ from the album they’re still touring, 2013’s ‘From Beer To Eternity’; then moved back through most of the bands career. Including others like ‘Rio Grande Blood’, ‘LiesLiesLies’, ‘Watch Yourself’ and one of the crowd favourites ‘Life Is Good’.

The set was an attack on all senses; visual with fits of strobes and imagery, aural with the non-stop force of sound and physical with the pit getting more and more hyped until it climaxed towards the end with classics ‘N.W.O.’, ‘Just One Fix’, ‘Thieves’ and ‘So What’ back to back.

There was none of the feedback from previous gigs gone by where Jourgensen had just leaned on the mic stand or hardly moved. The Corner Hotel crowd saw a lively and animated frontman who was also suffering from what seems to be a cold but he didn’t even let that slow him down. This year’s Soundwave and sidewave’s have seen some of the world’s biggest bands of the ‘90s show us that they can still hold their own and why they were pioneers of their respectful genres. Ministry and Godflesh together at The Corner on one night. Now that is going to be pretty damn hard to beat!

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