April 16, 2022
Photos by Raymond Ahner (IG – raymond_ahner)
After over two years and multiple support band changes, The Industrial Strength Tour finally hit the road (and recently wrapped up) earlier this week, but not before steamrolling into San Francisco’s Warfield Theater. Headliners Ministry were not only celebrating their latest release ( ‘Moral Hygiene’ – Nuclear Blast) but also the 30+ year anniversary of The Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Taste, which was released in 1989. With (the) Melvins and Corrosion of Conformity both along for the ride, it was definitely an evening to remember.
Taking the chain link fence surrounded stage to the Ukrainian National Anthem, Ministry frontman “Uncle” Al Jourgensen approached the front of fence (which was a ‘homage” to the band’s The Mind Is a Terrible Thing To Taste tour, during which they played the same venue) and said to the crowd “Hello San Francisco, it’s fucking great to be back. We’re going to do a bunch of old shit for you, and this one’s called ‘Breathe’.” From there the band crushed their way through a 15-song setlist that included every Ministry fan’s favorite song.
The setlist for this evening concentrated heavily on songs from The Land of Rape and Honey, The Mind Is a Terrible Thing To Taste, and Psalm 69, which are arguably their three biggest records, and highlights included “The Missing,” “Stigmata,” “Burning Inside,” “Just One Fix,” and “Thieves.” The band also pulled out a couple of surprises, with “Don’t Stand In Line” and “Man Should Surrender” (both from one of Jourgensen’s side projects, Pailhead, which was a collaboration with punk rock icon Ian MacKaye) and a ripping cover of Black Sabbath’s “Supernaut,” which was originally covered by 1000 Homo DJs, another Jourgensen project.
After closing their set with “So What,” Jourgensen and the rest of the band, which includes Monte Pittman and Cesar Soto on guitar, Paul D’Amour on bass, Roy Mayorga on drums, and John Bechdel on keyboards, left the stage to a video montage of retro Ministry photos, album covers, flyers, and live footage. The video clips also paid respect to previous members of the band who have passed, including Bill Rieflin, William Tucker, Mike Scaccia, and Paul Raven.
Although the fence was now broken down at this point, everyone in the sold out venue knew that the evening was not over quite yet. The band returned to the stage for “Alert Level,” “Good Trouble,” and a cover of Iggy and the Stooges “Search and Destroy”, all of which were from Ministry’s latest release, Moral Hygiene. It was the perfect way to end the evening.
Supporting Ministry for the tour were (the) Melvins, who late last year released an acoustic record of some of their most well known songs. There were no acoustic guitars on this evening though, as the band just came out and pummelled the crowd with heaviness. Highlights from their brief set included “The Kicking Machine,” “Evil New War God,” “Hooch,” and “Honey Bucket,” with Ministry drummer Roy Mayorga joining Melvins drummer Dale Crover for the latter two. More than doing their job of pumping up the crowd for the headliners, (the) Melvins closed out their set with “The Bit,” leaving the crowd wanting more.
Opening the evening on The Industrial Strength Tour was Raleigh, North Carolina’s Corrosion of Conformity, who blasted through a ten song setlist which included “Paranoid Opioid,” “Wiseblood,” and “Albatross.” They were the perfect band to open the show.
By the time it was all said and done, and despite all of the setbacks, The Industrial Strength tour was nothing short of a total success, and here’s to all of the bands getting back to what they do best, which is playing live music.
Here’s a slideshow with more photos by Raymond Ahner: