Upon arriving in our nations capital I set-off in search of the Forum. Of course I’d checked the London A-Z when I’d bought the gig ticket and when I booked the hotel. I had even checked again last night and knew that I was just up the road that runs alongside Euston station. Steven Wright quite correctly stated “Everywhere is walking distance if you have the time”, thankfully the sun was shining and I had plenty of time. Eversholt Street, Camden High Street, Kentish Town Road and Highgate Road was the route. Camden is a part of London that I’ve never visited on my trips to London possibly due to its complete lack of museums and galleries.
What seemed like hours later I finally found the venue. Even at 1:17pm I expected to see someone outside. When I saw Nine Inch Nails at the Astoria there were at least 20 people queuing outside at about the same time. I looked down the road at the side of the Forum and couldn’t even see any trucks or roadies feverishly unloading gear. Nothing at all. Even I started to think that the gig had been cancelled or moved to another location. So I walked all the way back to Kings Cross, found the hotel, had something to eat and a little sleep. Yes, I have reached that age when a little sleep in the afternoon just keeps me going until bedtime, even during the working week.
With my NIN t-shirt on I head back to the Forum with only one stop on the way to buy a can of Red Bull. Outside there are about 20 or so people behind a couple of barriers forming the semblance of a queue. Standing motionless for long periods is something that great British public excel at.
An old chap, who looked like he had spilt something down his shirt, stopped to ask questions. He asked what we were doing. I said that Ministry were playing and that they belong to a genre of music called ‘Industrial’. I should of just said that they were gospel singers especially when he pointed out that I was a little old for this kind of thing and that I must be close to retirement.
Finally, at about ten past seven the doors opened and we started to file in. The guys on the doors didn’t have much of a clue. It seemed that they had just been hired for the evening as they all looked at each ticket as if they hadn’t ever seen one before. That was one good thing about the Astoria, all their staff are on the ball, the venue may be a little shabby, that’s part of it’s charm, but everyone knows what to do and does it well.
Once inside I bought myself a tour t-shirt and like a complete nerd put it on straight away. I didn’t care because my old bones were cold. Being one of the first in I made a bee-line for a spot in front of the mixing desk. Yes, even though the people at the barrier were probably only two deep I took the safe option. At least were I was I could look at all the cool hardware in the racks and see the projection screen better.
I don’t know if 2 warm up bands represent value for money but I could personally have done without one of them. The first band got pretty much no response at all, the second maybe a little more. But with the set change it seemed like we were kept waiting forever. One of the roadies asked the guy behind the mixing desk if Joey’s wife could watch from back there. She does seem to be even smaller than Joey so didn’t take up much room.
When the covers were taken off the drum-kit there was a small cheer. No doubt because large animal skulls are a rarity in Camden. But there was only a slightly louder cheer when Al’s skulls and bones microphone stand made an appearance.
- Set List
- Fear (Is Big Business)
- Señor Peligro
- No W
- Rio Grande Blood
- The Great Satan
- Lies, Lies, Lies
- Just One Fix
- Khyber Pass
- First Encore
- So What
- Final Encore
- Psalm 69
The band finally take to the stage. Joey’s wearing a war helmet similar to the one that Al wore on the Sphinctour DVD, only with a chin-strap. I recognise Paul Raven from Killing Joke and Tommy Victor from Prong but not the keyboard player, John Bechdel, or the other guitarist, Mike Scaccia. Then Al walks on to a huge cheer and is carrying a bottle of red wine, a glass (a sign of good culture and breeding) and is wearing black makeup.
They just rip through about 5 songs from Rio Grande Blood without stopping or pausing for breath. Al is either pulling the mic stand back as he is singing into it or leaning onto one ‘arm’ of it during the instrumentals. Any other front man would have been frantically head banging but he’s too old for that shit, if he had even tried his head would have fallen from his neck years ago. Occasionally he would wander over to the guitarist and play air-guitar behind him, this is in between smoking and filling his wine glass.
I like the new album a lot but don’t know any of the song titles, apart from Lies Lies Lies that is. Of the older stuff they played: Thieves, NWO, Just One Fix, So What, Stigmata and Psalm 69. I think NWO was the only if not one of the few songs that Al played guitar on. I noticed that Joey changed hats for the encores, that helmet didn’t stay on his head for long, he changed into the kind of police hat that Al used to wear. It looked like Joey was playing along to a click track because whenever he left the riser his drum tech had to unplug him. For a band like this it is practically a necessity. The video screen was showing images of George Bush, Bin Laden, cartoons, war and what looked like the promo video for Lies Lies Lies. The amount of work that must have gone into that must have been incredible as it was on during the whole show.
Two encores later and Al tosses his empty wine bottle into the crowd and bids us all goodnight after a perfect aural assault.