Ministry – Phoenix Concert Theatre, Toronto – June 17th, 2015

Review and Photos by Mike Bax

“They know how many times you take a shit.
They know how many times you wipe.
They know how many porn sites you’ve visited.
Watch Yourself.”
Al Jourgensen

Deemed the From Beer To EternaTour, this eight-week long Ministry outing was technically a bonus round of live dates from Al Jourgensen and his band of merry men. Ministry delivered their ‘final tour’ back in 2009. Jourgensen, feeling broken and bruised from years of substance abuse and heavy touring, wanted to put the entire Ministry thing to bed and move on. Ironically, Mike Scaccia, Ministry’s long time guitarist continued to collaborate on songs with Jourgensen – songs that would gestate into Ministry material. It was just after the last round of these sessions with Jourgensen that Mike Scaccia died suddenly in December of 2012, collapsing on stage. Once he felt able to, Jourgensen polished off this music, released the album under the Ministry moniker (From Beer To Eternity) and committed to touring the album, thus putting the Ministry machine to bed for good.

The last night of the tour was in Toronto on Wednesday, June 17th. The band stayed in Canada to head to Montebello, QC to play Amnesia Rock Fest on the weekend. But their tour technically ended here on what had to be a capacity show at the Phoenix Concert Theatre. If this evening wasn’t sold out, it was damn close to being so. I haven’t had that many sweaty people slide up against me in the venue (trying to get to wherever it is people try to get to at a live show) in a long time.

Sixxis, who opened the majority of dates on this tour, weren’t in Toronto for some reason. Local noise-meisters Malhavoc stepped in to fill the slot as openers this evening, dropping 45 minutes of their signature industrial metal noise on an already wedged crowd of onlookers. It was great to hear some old nuggets from ‘The Release’, ‘Premeditated Murder’ and ‘Get Down’ delivered live on stage again. Perhaps playing to a crowd of people who didn’t know much about Malhavoc, judging from the audience reaction to some of Malhavoc’s more favourable songs, I didn’t get that feeling at all. If nothing else, the band proved themselves a respectable enough to open for an entity like Ministry.

As the Ministry stage got set up, fans smashed themselves forward to get as close to the stage as possible. There was grumbling about the price of this evening’s performance. $69.69 plus a bit of service charges. Maybe a bit steep, yes. But getting to see Ministry in a room this size, arguably the dollar amount didn’t really matter much. Tonight was a chance to see Ministry play a selection of their finest music in an intimate setting, and the band completely delivered the goods.

Sure, fans could poke holes in the setlist performed. ‘Jesus Built My Hotrod’ wasn’t played. No ‘Stigmata’. Insert crying sounds here. Rather than moan about what we didn’t get, I’d rather focus on what fans walked away with: some of the finest Ministry material performed at breakneck speed in a competent fashion. The show was damn loud!! It sounded great. It ran 100 minutes. And the band seemed as into it as the crowd. Towards the end of the show, Jourgensen joked that fans up front were exuding so much heat he could roast a marshmallow off of them. You can’t really ask for much better than that, can you?

Ministry came back out for a single song as an encore, the illustrious ‘Khyber Pass’, a song good enough to end The Hurt Locker; a song good enough to end the 2006 album Rio Grande Blood, and a song good enough to end their entire tour. Just before the song ended, Jourgensen waved at the crowd, telling the Toronto audience that they had been great, before leaving the stage. One by one the band stopped playing, leaving only John Bechdel on keyboards before he too waved at the audience and left the stage.

‘Enjoy the Quiet’, the final track on From Beer To Eternity was broadcast over the PA, Jourgensen’s farewell homage to Mikey Scaccia, and then the house lights came up.

Al Jourgensen, Sin Quirin (guitar), Aaron Rossi (drums), John Bechdel (keyboards), Tony Campos (bass) and Cesar Soto (guitar) performed an amazing concert this evening. With a perfectly synchronized montage of signature Ministry visuals (Al’s best weapon of propaganda) and an energetic audience in the room, I couldn’t have left the venue happier. Tonight was worth every penny!!

Hail to His Majesty (Peasants)
Punch in the Face
Perfect Storm
Fairly Unbalanced
Rio Grande Blood
Señor Peligro
Watch Yourself
Life Is Good
Just One Fix
So What

Khyber Pass

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