The Fillmore was brimming with excitement. Though Corrosion of Conformity and The Melvins are fairly regular acts in New Orleans, Ministry is not. The industrial outfit’s last visit to the Crescent City was back in 2015. Though the Melvins were not able to make the show, we found out as COC was playing, the show was no less thrilling.
Corrosion of Conformity complete with guitarist and vocalist Pepper Keenan had the amazing skill of making that big venue and wide stage feel really small. We were transported to an old, small, smokey bar somewhere in the backwoods of the deep south as they started into their set that began with “Bottom Feeder,” “Paranoid Opioid,” and “Shake Like You.” Woody Weatherman was deep into his guitar and seemed not to even notice anyone else was in the room with him. Mike Dean would get on the mic to help emphasize Pepper’s vocals, but he was also deep in the groove with Woody.
“You guys want to hear some heavy shit.” Asked Pepper to which the audience enthusiastically responded. They ran through their slow, groovy, whiskey-drenched hits “The Door,” “Vote With a Bullet,” and “Wiseblood.” “How many of you guys like to boogie woogie.” Pepper said before launching into COC’s very popular bangers “Born Again for the Last Time,” “Albatross,” and “Clean My Wounds.” Corrosion of Conformity was able to play all of these great songs because The Melvins were not in attendance.
Before Ministry came out, a foreboding chain-link fence was brought out to the stage. It would separate the band from their audience for most of their show. The lights dropped out, and the colors of the Ukrainian flag splashed across the stage. Ministry made it clear that they stand with the brave people of Ukraine during this current onslaught.
The band powered onto the stage, seeming like wild animals thrown into a cage. They viciously launched into “Breathe,” “The Missing,” and “Deity.” Al Jourgensen spent very little time behind his glowing green cross-laden podium and instead menaced the audience from behind the fence. He would grab onto it and shake it, nearly toppling it at times.
Al also spoke about the band’s history between songs and explained why he wanted to revisit some of their early records for this tour. To explain one aspect of Ministry’s creation, they performed “Supernaut,” a Black Sabbath cover as spacey visuals illuminated them and a sound bite talked about how youths are doing acid. Two more non-Ministry songs came after, this time from the band Pailhead that Al played with in the 1980s: “Don’t Stand In Line” and “Man Should Surrender.”
Al finally picked up a guitar of his own for “N.W.O.” as visuals of flags from many nations flooded the stage. You could feel the floor tremble when people saw their favorite flag and would jump with joy upon seeing it.
Cesar Soto and Monte Pittman’s guitars were tight and precise. Razor sharp. Roy Mayorga’s drums were prominent and clean among the churning guitars. The juxtaposition of this precision with COC’s bluesy, soulful sound was so interesting. This was a lineup where you used both sides of your brain to take it in.