Photos and Words by Dustin Schneider
Last night, Dos Equis Pavilion was transformed into a sonic battlefield as the legendary industrial metal pioneers Ministry linked up with Filter, Alice Cooper, and Rob Zombie to launch the highly anticipated Freaks on Parade Tour.
On a personal note, I felt like I was returning to the scene of a crime. In 1992 I saw Ministry grace this same stage as part of that year’s Lollapalooza lineup. Ministry was deep in the midst of the Psalm 69 era and in a weird parallel that set was also played as the sun was beginning to set. Little did I know that as Ministry rolled through their set last night, that wouldn’t be the only thing that felt oddly familiar.
The first metallic strikes of the guitar from “Thieves” resonated through the venue, signaling the beginning of an unforgettable night. Al Jourgensen’s presence was immediately commanding as he stormed onto the stage, his gravelly vocals cutting through the air like a blade. The fists of the crowd were instantly launched into the air in sync with the samples taken from Full Metal Jacket.
The current lineup, led by the enigmatic frontman Al Jourgensen, proved that time has done nothing to diminish the raw power and intensity that Ministry is known for. Supported by an arsenal of talent, including Cesar Soto, Monte Pittman, Paul D’Amour, Roy Mayorga, and John Bechdel, Ministry’s sound was a wall of sonic aggression. The triple-threat guitar attack of Soto, Pittman, and Jourgensen himself created a sonic landscape that was equal parts heavy and haunting. Paul D’Amour’s basslines rumbled through the venue, providing a backbone to the thunderous onslaught. Roy Mayorga’s drumming was a force to be reckoned with, driving each song forward with a primal intensity. The atmospheric touches added by John Bechdel’s keys added a layer of complexity to the music that was both eerie and captivating.
The setlist was constructed of Ministry classics, with nothing played outside of the Psalm 69 era except for the brand-new single “Goddamn White Trash”. Songs like “Stigmata”, “The Missing” “NWO,” and “Just One Fix,” had the crowd pounding the air in unison, while the aforementioned “Goddamn White Trash” demonstrated the band’s unwavering relevance and ability to evolve their sound. But the real surprise was the reimagined, and a whole lot heavier, set closer “Revenge” off the 1983 album With Sympathy. Jourgensen prefaced the track by saying this was the first time Ministry had performed this song in 40 years. That right there is a testament to Ministry’s longevity!
What truly set this performance apart, beyond the exceptional musicianship, was how stripped down the set was. No chainlink fences this time around, just a raw no thrills stage set up with a few video screens flashing thought-provoking visuals that enhanced the emotional impact of each song.
Al Jourgensen’s presence was magnetic, as he alternated between shredding his guitar and engaging the audience with his iconic stage banter. His energy was infectious, and the connection he established with the crowd was electric. At times, it felt less like a concert and more like a cathartic release of shared energy between the performers and their devoted fans.
As the set drew to a close, the cheers and applause were deafening, echoing the sentiment of a crowd that had just witnessed a tour kick-off for the ages. Ministry’s set on this incarnation of the Freaks on Parade Tour is not just a concert; it’s a sonic assault on the senses, a visual spectacle, and a testament to the enduring power of industrial metal. If the opening night is any indication, this tour is destined to be a highlight in the band’s storied career, and a must-see for any fan of heavy, uncompromising music.
Ministry Dallas Setlist on 8.24.23: