Anti-Republican Rhetoric Reigns Supreme at Ministry Concert at the Agora

click to enlarge Anti-Republican Rhetoric Reigns Supreme at Ministry Concert at the Agora
Jon Lichtenberg
While Al Jourgensen, the outspoken frontman for the industrial rock band Ministry, spent the better part of the 2000s writing songs aimed at exposing the incompetence of then-President George W. Bush, he has publicly said Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is even more of a buffoon.

And yet in a recent interview, he referred to the man as “low hanging fruit” and said he would rather not go after such an easy target. So at last night’s concert at the Agora Theatre in front of several hundred fans, he let friend Jello Biafra, who wore a T-shirt that read “Nazi Trumps Fuck Off,” do the dirty work. You can see a slideshow of photos from the concert here

The former singer of the punk band Dead Kennedys, Biafra, who introduced Ministry and served as MC for the concert, had a few choice words for current presidential election and the Republican presidential candidate whom he says spends 450,000 dollars a year on his hair. Calling the presidential race a “cartoon show,” he encouraged patrons to vote for “things that matter” and suggested legalizing weed and passing rent control were more important issues than electing a president.

Jourgensen didn’t pontificate much during Ministry’s 90-minute set. At one point, he encouraged fans to vote but said he didn’t care for whom they cast their vote. At another point, he said he thought he was going to get arrested earlier in the day as he left his hotel. "This whole thing with the RNC is freaking me out," he told the crowd.

Looking like a sinister Jack Sparrow with his tangled mess of hair and his arm-length tattoos, Jourgensen screamed more than he sang during the extremely loud and aggressive concert, barking out the lyrics to leftist-leaning tunes such as the set’s opening number “Hail to His Majesty (Peasants)," a heavy song that benefit from some symphonic synthesizer riffs, and “N.W.O.,” the band's infamous anti-anthem that began with what sounded like sirens before heavy guitar riffs and parched vocals took over.

While the set lost some momentum because of an awkward segue between “The Missing” and “Deity,” the band recovered for “Thieves,” which benefited from bursts of white noise. During the encore, Jourgensen let his capable five-piece band jam on a rendition of “So What” that came off as particularly punishing as the distorted guitars and heavy drums created a veritable wall of sound.

Some of the night's opening acts took aim directly at the RNC. Suicide Machines’ singer Jason Navarro talked about the importance of “giving a shit” and said that he would rather write about social issues than “the stupid shit that Blink-812 does.” he also criticized House of Blues for putting a "welcome RNC" sign on its marquee. Songs such as the snarling, Fugazi-like “Step One” came out particularly well.

Helmet singer-guitarist Page Hamilton didn’t say anything explicitly about the RNC but focused instead on leading his band through a rigorous set that included lengthy jams during which he’d often push his guitar up against his stack of amps to elicit noisy feedback from the instrument. Set closer "In the Meantime" sounded sharp as he delivered the refrain like he was some kind of drill sergeant.

Green Jelly singer Bill Manspeaker started his band’s set by simply saying, “We don’t care about no goddamn Republican bullshit. We’re just here to have a good time.” The band’s performance started with a heavy metal rendition of “Three Little Pigs” and included covers of “Anarchy in the UK” and “Puff the Magic Dragon.”

All in all, the concert served as an appropriate primer for the onslaught of protests, rants and general mayhem slated to hit town this week.

About The Author

Jeff Niesel

Jeff has been covering the Cleveland music scene for more than 20 years now. And on a regular basis, he tries to talk to whatever big acts are coming through town, too. If you're in a band that he needs to hear, email him at [email protected].
Scroll to read more Music News articles


Join Cleveland Scene Newsletters

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.