fri 22/11/2019

Ministry, O2 Institute, Birmingham review – a different 4th July from Uncle Al | reviews, news & interviews

Ministry, O2 Institute, Birmingham review – a different 4th July from Uncle Al

Ministry, O2 Institute, Birmingham review – a different 4th July from Uncle Al

Even after almost 40 years, Al Jourgensen’s crew are no heritage act

Ministry: 'Fuck Nigel Farage'

There can’t be many bands who have been around (on and off) for almost 40 years and who choose to play the whole of their latest album as their live set. That kind of thing is more often reserved for 10- or 20-year anniversary tours. No one could accuse Al Jourgensen and Ministry (or any of his many bands, for that matter) from having ever taken the easy route at any point in their career though. Fortunately for a heaving O2 Institute, Uncle Al is still not playing “the game” today.

To celebrate this year’s Fourth of July, Ministry played two sets on the Birmingham leg of their first UK tour since getting back together last year – the first consisting of the whole of 2018’s AmeriKKKant album, the second taking in the high points of their monumental late 80s and early 90s trio of industrial-metal genre-creating discs, The Land of Rape and Honey, The Mind is a Terrible Thing to Taste and Psalm 69. Given that AmeriKKKant is Ministry’s anti-love letter to President Tiny Hands and that it is still a soundtrack to the daily news, over a year since its release, this was a move that proved somewhat popular with their Midlands’ audience.

As “I Know Words”, the sample-heavy intro to Ministry’s latest disc drew to a close, with trippy Trumpian-America themed visuals projected onto the back of the stage, Al Jourgensen strode out into the light, looking like a heavily-tattooed demon king with flailing dreadlocks and more piercings than you might want to count. Given his history of self-destructive habits, however, he was looking pretty healthy and ploughed into “Twilight Zone” with a mean blues harmonica. This was accompanied by riffing guitars and pounding drums, while images of Bruce Lee, mushroom clouds and the present US President flashed across the stage. Moving on through the Charlie Chaplin-sampling, ”Victims of a Clown”, “Antifa” and “Game Over”, Jourgensen briefly introduced final track, “AmeriKKKa” with “We don’t want you on the same path to destruction as us. Fuck Nigel Farage” to enough cheering to know that this part of the rock’n’roll nation are no Little Englanders.

After a short breather, Ministry returned to the stage with Uncle Al announcing, “We’ll celebrate the 4th July by playing some old tunes from when days were crappy but not shitty.” With that, the band plunged into the feisty “The Missing” with its thumping beat and Jourgensen’s magnificent growl. Soon they were into the speedy “Jesus Built My Hotrod” and, by now, the mosh pit was getting decidedly lively. During “Just One Fix”, William Burroughs appeared on the screen in all his spectral glory and gallons of dry ice enveloped the stage, as pogoing, headbanging and crowd-surfing seemed to take a fair number in the audience into a kind of ecstatic state. However, bringing things to a close with the more atmospheric, if not particularly chilled “No Devotion”, Al handed out calming spliffs to the front row as he sent the crowd on its way, intoning “The voice of God means nothing anymore.”

Over some two hours, Ministry had provided an evening of religion, politics, drugs and a celebration of humanity and, on this Fourth of July, Birmingham lapped it up.

Pogoing, headbanging and crowd-surfing seemed to take a fair number in the audience into a kind of ecstatic state


Editor Rating: 
Average: 4 (1 vote)

Share this article

Add comment

Subscribe to

Thank you for continuing to read our work on For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 10,000 pieces, we're asking for £3.95 per month or £30 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.

To take an annual subscription now simply click here.

And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a gift subscription?


Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters

Advertising feature


A compulsive, involving, emotionally stirring evening – theatre’s answer to a page-turner.
The Observer, Kate Kellaway


Direct from a sold-out season at Kiln Theatre the five star, hit play, The Son, is now playing at the Duke of York’s Theatre for a strictly limited season.



This final part of Florian Zeller’s trilogy is the most powerful of all.
The Times, Ann Treneman


Written by the internationally acclaimed Florian Zeller (The Father, The Mother), lauded by The Guardian as ‘the most exciting playwright of our time’, The Son is directed by the award-winning Michael Longhurst.


Book by 30 September and get tickets from £15*
with no booking fee.