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Ministry // Live @ House of Blues Houston // 3.29.24

Article and Photos by: Ommar Ortuvia


Houston, TX — Friday night in downtown Houston was a busy one, with the local baseball team playing their opening series, a big-time female diva playing two shows on back-to-back nights, and the college basketball team playing in the Sweet Sixteen (which guaranteed packed bars and restaurants with fans cheering on the teams). Amidst the crowds in sports jerseys and 80s-inspired outfits, a separate crowd stood out wearing t-shirts with the anarchy logo, dreads, and an attitude that displayed indifference to pop musicians and sports happenings. If you followed these rogues, you would arrive at the House of Blues Houston where Al Jourgensen (most known as Uncle Al) came with his cadre of musicians for a night of industrial and electronic energy with his band Ministry, supported by English electronic/new wave icon Gary Numan, and the Canadian electronic/industrial band Front Line Assembly (FLA).

Inside the venue it was near impossible to travel from one side to the other, where if you needed to use the facilities or grab a drink you might be on a trek lasting many minutes, since the sold-out crowd huddled into any free space that the place provided. Once the crowd warmed up with FLA’s electro-industrial sound, Gary Numan and crew continued the electronic wave with amazing theatrics and hard-hitting sound. At this point, the stage (pun-intended) was set for Ministry to start their show. After sound check Ministry’s signature cross was positioned center-stage; this time the cross was inlaid with a biomechanical humanoid reminiscent of H. R. Giger’s classic paintings.

A few minutes later the band members took the stage, with Uncle Al showing up this tour without his legendary dreads and instead sporting a shoulder-length bob which made him actually look like every family’s cool uncle (versus the face-punching uncle that says what he pleases…which few families have). Do not let this change in hairstyle fool you – Ministry still packed an auditory leftist-libertarian-anarchistic punch to the gut starting the show with “B.D.E” (acronym for Big Dick Energy) a hymn about “toxic misogyny” and incels, with assisted vocals by the silver-clad film producer Leni Badpenny (Von Eckardt). Next came “Just Stop Oil,” “Goddamn White Trash,” and “New Religion,” all songs from their recently released Hopium for the Masses. The rest of the setlist was a good mix of Ministry’s prior albums, with their most known releases from the iconic 1992 album Psalm 69, “N.W.O” and “Just One Fix,” playing halfway through the set. Prior to the encore, the band decided to close things off with “Jesus Built My Hotrod,” a song that is an ode to speed and turbo-charged engines with a history behind it that borders on urban legend. If you don’t know the story behind the song, it is worth a read.

Afterwards the encore consisted of “Burning Inside” and “So What,” both songs from their other legendary album, 1989’s The Mind is a Terrible Thing to Waste. And with that the show was over! With a 40+ year history Ministry is still is able to put on a hell of a show, and their current lineup of musicians who have been together for ~5 years exhibit a solid stage presence that keeps up with Uncle Al’s spryness. At 65 years old, Jourgensen still embodies his larger than life persona onstage with middle fingers flying and talking a big game – after the completion of Alert Level, Uncle Al accused the crowd of being too well-behaved, “being 6 songs in and having no bottles thrown.” This of course prompted a few drinks to be flung to the front…with none hitting Jourgensen. Until next time, Uncle Al.