Maybe all this talk about laying Ministry to rest once the moving van pitches up on White House driveway to collect the Bush family furniture was bullshit. Watching the video footage that serves as the backdrop to the band's stage setup as they arrive for what is due to be their final ever appearance in London, you can't help but wonder that perhaps there's more to it than simply setting off into the sunset with old Dubya. Ministry have, after all, vividly soundtracked the zeitgeist to multiple eras, going all the way back to the crass consumerism of the Eighties and, truth be told, the world needs a band who can seamlessly meld together a social and politically conscious message with massive entertainment value now more than it ever has. So perhaps it's possible that Al Jourgenson has simply given up in the face of it all. I certainly wouldn't blame him.
Hypothetical musings aside, tonight also bears particular personal significance for this writer. Like some who may be reading this, Ministry played a crucial role in my musical coming of age, and I have no qualms in naming to them as a serious contender among my all-time favourites. It makes snoring my way through a support act as thoroughly atrocious as Pythia that much harder to stomach. There are times when I'd love to simply label a band as shit, and be done with it. But these goth metal buffoons warrant additional scorn for having the most annoying frontwoman in Emily Ovenden that I have witnessed since I suffered through a Queen Adreena set. What exactly made the promoters decide that these hacks were an ideal way to warm up the obviously partisan crowd is anybody's guess, but it stings just a little to think that Stateside the audience got their evening started with Meshuggah. For the most part Pythia sound like a poor man's Nightwish, albeit with a drummer who knows his way around a double bass pedal. They indulge in every tired cliché of a subgenre that long ago ran out of good ideas, and when they bow out, there's a virtually unanimous sigh of relief that washes over the cavernous confines of the Forum.
We all know that Jourgenson has a sense of humour, and it seems almost typical that he'd choose to start the evening by teasing us by using a track off the upcoming Revolting Cocks disc as an intro tape. Subtly titled "I'm Not Gay", it reeks of vintage RevCo far more than anything on 2006's _Cocked & Loaded_ ever did, and if the rest of _Sexo Olympico_ is anything like this, you're looking at a candidate for my top 10 this year. When the lads take to the stage, the roar of approval from the punters is deafening. They launch into "Let's Go" off their swansong, _The Last Sucker_, and before we're able to catch our breath, we're hit with an additional one-two combination of "The Dick Song" and "Watch Yourself".
Sticking to post-2000 material, they spend the better part of the next hour regaling us with the likes of "No W", "Waiting", "Worthless", "Rio Grande Blood", "Senor Peligro", and "Lieslieslies". The first half of the performance comes to a haunting close with a skull-crushing rendition of "Khyber Pass", and it's here where we're reminded once again just how phenomenal a performer Jourgenson is.
Wasting little time stepping out for the first encore, Ministry tear the house down with "So What?". Clearly a tune that the assembled throng have been aching to hear their response borders on a full-scale riot, and they only grow more rowdy when "NWO", "Just One Fix" and "Thieves" round out the salvo of classics. The band's delivery is devastatingly on form, and though Jourgenson's banter is kept to a minimum, when he does open his mouth all in attendance hang on to his every word.
By the time proceedings start grinding to a halt with covers of ZZ Top's "Just Got Paid" and The Doors' "Roadhouse Blues", there's not much more to be said about Ministry and the legacy that they're going to leave behind; the band delivered their own eulogy with one of the finest gigs I have witnessed in seven years in the capital. All I can say is thanks for the music and the good memories, Al. You are going to be very sorely missed indeed.