Not many bands have gone from pop to metal, to industrial in one musical lifetime and, quite frankly, it would not be a pleasant thought to imagine many artists even trying it. There are not many people pining for a heavy metal platter from The Cure and with good reason, most likely.

Furthermore, Ministry has had more lineup changes than most baseball teams, leaving founding member Al Jourgensen as the only original man on the stage. That means that if the CD has him blowing sax or playing guitar or screaming about his hatred for who he sees as far right (anyone right of Karl Marx), all of that diversity comes spewing from the mind of a single person.

That is not to suggest even for a moment that guitarists Cesar Soto and Monte Pittman (Madonna/Prong), keyboard legend John Bechdel, drummer Roy Mayorga (Hellyeah/Stone Sour), bassist Paul D'Amour (Tool) left anything to be desired – how could that happen with such a lineup? – but before any of that happened, a few things needed "assembled in the front line."

Columbus gets Mindphased by Front Line Assembly

While Ministry in all of its formations has been more likely to leave one dancing somewhat spryly or looking to battle them in the mosh pit (of which NONE is crazier or harder than Ministry's), when dark-electro kings Front Line Assembly opened the show at Kemba Live in Columbus, they showed that when it comes to dancing eerily awash in synths with a sense of foreboding, they had the patent.

They are, after all, one of the founders of the sound with just as much importance to the "industrial" scene as Skinny Puppy, Front 242, or Nitzer Ebb. Songs like "Provision" are played in goth clubs to this very day and Front Line Assembly certainly showed why that is during this fine evening in Ohio.

Consisting of Bill Leeb, Rhys Fulber, Matthew Setzer, and Jon Siren, Front Line Assembly choose to come out of the gates like a Pamplona bull with one of the heaviest songs from their brooding catalog, "Vigilante."

The song had the same effect that it does when it opens their timeless crossover release, "Millennium," meaning that the crowd was in motion.

It was a surprise to see just how much force the keyboard sounds and electronics coming from Fulber had.

While "Vigilante" is very much a headbanging song, the placement of keyboard sounds managed to fill out the room without their nuances (which are many) being lost. It was the perfect marriage of metal and industrial, something that no other band has ever done better.

Fulber can play the keys and he can launch sections of triggered music, too. He is no stranger to tech or to talent, which is rare to find in many electronic bands, making him a treasure.

"Plasticity" was not one that many expected and it appeared where some in attendance were expecting the aforementioned, "Provision," which was not performed. Both "Plasticity" and "Mindphaser, " which seems to have been borrowed from a lot in the song "No Name, No Slogan" by Ministry side project, Acid Horse) held the electro banner high and proud and it was a pleasure to hear these great songs that sound so good in the nightclubs sounding so fulfilling in the live realm, as well.

"Malignant," "Deadened" and the banger "Millennium" closed out an opening set seemed, really, to to be far too short.

Sadly, particularly post-COVID, shows end quite early compared to times prior, but Front Line Assembly didn't waste a precious grain of sand in the hourglass.

It is interesting to note that "Millennium" actually had far less guitar in the mix than expected and far less than in past live performances of the song by the band. Whether this was a fluke mix from the soundman or a purposeful move isn't known but the sound exposed a different vibrancy when performed this way. The alteration didn't hurt the song any, which was proven when the mosh pit opened up for the first time in the evening.

At various points in the show Fulber and the distinctly distorted Leeb played standing drums that they both had during the night.

It added a thunder and, though a bit staggered at times with the electronics and the live drummer, was a well-received part of a powerful show. With Front 242 retiring and Skinny Puppy retired, the scene is so very grateful to have Front Line Assembly still here and sounding so good. They have been doing a lot of festivals and things of that nature lately, and even though they may be a horse of a different breed when compared to a lot of the more mainstream acts that are on the bill usually, it is clear to see why Front Line Assembly has a career for as long as they wish to have one.

A lot more than 'Cars'

Gary Numan is one of those artists who has been hit with two artist curses that he does not deserve.

For one, it is possible to have such a huge hit that no matter what an entertainer does, he or she is known for that hit. "Cars" was just such a hit for Gary Numan and it has been embraced as much from 1980's retros as it has by Fear Factory, which says volumes.

However, Gary Numan is not a one hit wonder.

When people hear "Down In The Park" or "Friends Electric," they often say, "Oh, I know that song. I didn't know who did it."

Still, that double whammy can't overshadow this man's amazing music. He has been covered by and/or played with Marilyn Manson, Nine Inch Nails, and a myriad of others for a reason and that reason was on perfect display as act two began.

Gary Numan and his band are vastly different than other acts of any genre because while they have keyboards, electronics and lyrics which reach deeply into a wide variety of topics, their music always sounds like it could easily be made into a movie score, as well.

The keys are craftily and carefully played, whereas Ministry often use their keys to trigger segments or noises. Both artforms are brilliant, though it must be said that they keyboard prowess was really strong in the Numan camp.

Also, Gary Numan (both guitarists who look like En Esch from K.M.F.D.M.) is much heavier and more aggressive live than on CD, though this likely due to the power of the live moment more than to a purposeful move to be so. Still, this led for an artist who many may have though to be "poppy" to hold their own with Ministry in terms of the crowds rapt attention, so clearly, there was something more going on here.

Songs like the opener, "Everything Comes Down To This," the mechanical "Metal," and "Haunted" were tracks that saw Numan moving like a cross between a snake charmer and the snake that was itself charmed.

Looking like a man half his age, Numan was fit and flailing, his left arm laced in black fabric ala The Crow, whilst sporting a gray shirt, and caldron black hair.

The interlude soundscapes that accompany Gary Numan between songs is no afterthought, and the creations added a bit of mystery to the mood being set.

No artist short of Ozzy has a voice as distinct as Gary Numan's and people who have such a voice will often point out that it is both a blessing and curse. When the sound that the the crowd loves is one of a kind, it is not hard to notice if it strays, yet like his body and face, Numan's voice seems to be immune to age.

One of the bands other newer songs, "My Name Is Ruin" would, in a fair world, be nominated for a Grammy for Best Live Performance for what was accomplished on this warm March evening.

It was simply flawless, the keyboards whirled like saddened storytellers, and every member of the band seemed locked into the tale.

"Cars" was performed, as well, a bit darker these days, particularly with the intro sound, but it also didn't roam too far from the song that everyone has known fondly for decades, either. Numan played the keys on this one, showing his ability to play guitar, sing, and command the stage with a hypnotic stage presence all at one time.

Uncle Al and Ministry

Al Jourgensen (Uncle Al, to his fans) is a man unlike any other and it is a miracle that he is even alive. He has survived a toe amputation after stepping on a needle (an appendage that Dave Navarro wanted to buy for 20 grand!), a heroin addiction that he shared with the interestingly unsettling William Burroughs, a police raid, and has a tell-all book that has parts which can hardly be worded easily enough to retell in most environments.

He also has a tendency to lean so far left that he seems to endorse ANTIFA and has a little bit of cringe regarding things like sampling Greta Thunburg or calling for oil to end (as they tour the world) but Uncle Al has also written some of the most powerfully chaotic music ever composed.

Sometimes, that meant spending eons cutting tape to create a guitar line in songs like So What that can't actually be accomplished in the same way by anyone else (though it did sound good live). Other times, it meant piecing together the drunken ramblings of Gibby Haynes from the Butthole Surfers who Al had brought in after Ministry blew their label money on drugs. During the recording of "Jesus Built My Hotrod," he is said to have been even more wasted than any member of the band: "he showed up, thew up, sat up, and spat up" some of the most babbling set of placeholder lyrics mixed with thoughts about a trailer park that worked to anger Warner Brothers Records so much that they almost dropped the band.

That song not only became a hit, but now, 22 years later, it was used to end the first set before the encore as the crowd sang along... or tried to, anyway.

Ministry is, thankfully, a band that doesn't only play the same few songs live (can anyone say, "KISS?") regardless of how popular they were, though they do get to many of them on every stop. The crowd will always get to hear the new music at a Ministry show, their CDs don't get released to have songs that never see the stage on them, and this was shown as "B.D.E." and "Just Stop Oil "opened the set. Behind the cross that adorned the foot of the stage, the mighty singer did have a music stand with lyrics tucked away, which he seemed to only use for the new ones as a reminder with a quick stare, nothing distracting or easily noticed.

"B.D.E." saw a simply gorgeous singer named Lemi Von Eckardt (aka, Leni Badpenny), wife of author and journalist Greg Palast, come out in a silver outfit that blew everyone away. She sang like a bird, rocked the stage, and vanished... never to be seen again.

It is said that they are working on upcoming projects together, and with Al saying that next Ministry release will be the last (and that the tour for it may revisit older songs with clean female lead vocals), one can imagine that she will be doing those parts on that next tour.

As for this tour, from the world go, it was obvious that Uncle Al, somehow devoid of his dreadlocks (how he got them out after so many years, who can say?), looked like a cross between the Children Of The Corn and a wicked scarecrow in his black hat and coat. He looked clear-eyed, the heroin needle long gone, and he was in top form. He has a way of miming out his songs, jokingly dancing, and interacting with the crowd which is somewhat funny and totally endearing.

"Aryan Embarrassment" was another forceful newer song and it gave Al a chance to vent at who he perceived to be nazi and antisemitic. This worked since, no matter where one is politically, no one in their right mind likes nazis, so the crowd was onboard as the sonic fury pummeled down upon the engrossed crowd.

"New Religion," the newest single, was played, as well as "Alert Level" fom the last release, and both songs were met with love. Many in the pit seemed to know the lyrics to the new songs which has been released only months ago. During the latter, Al thanked the crowd for "letting the band masturbate with their new songs" and promised to get to the classics. He then apologized for having the crowd sing, "Let's Get Ready" over and over, but "we are recording this for a live CD."

Needless to say, this took the crowd and the deadly mosh pit up to fifth gear and put the pedal firmly to the floor!

Fans who own the 2002 DVD, "Sphinctour," will know that the band used footage and audio from many stops along the journey. During "So What," the singer requested that the fans scream along during the "SO WHAT!" parts and the "DIE" chorus (giving the "right on" hand sign each time that they did so), he told the crowd, "Columbus, you keep doing that, you are going to on the CD."

So, after a powerful drive into "Broken System" which saw the drumming as on point as at any time since Joey Jordison was in the band, and a song that saw the band so on point that it was hard to tell where one members parts started and others left off, it was time for memory lane Ministry style... and time to pray for the mosh pit.

There were NO crowd surfers at this Ministry concert and there was a reason for this. The pit was so active and constant that any attempts would have been met with a visit to the concrete floor because there was no one to carry them. They were all pummeling each other in the (usually) friendliest of melee. There is no pit in rock and roll more extreme than a Ministry pit unless it so mean that it isn't fun any longer (which would soon end and not be a pit).

With that in mind, it can not be properly stated what the floor looked when the Al told the Ministry faithful that the next was going to be "N.W.O."

No song works better to frame what Ministry does better than "New World Order (N.W.O.)." Like "Jesus Built My Hotrod," the song is basically two chords.

That's it.

However, in that song are bongo-like percussion loops (which is not easy for a live drummer to lock into, contrary to what many may think), crowd/riot samples cut into a rhythmic cadence that must fit the song, clanging, and even one of Al's screams which can't be done live due to feedback issues on the effect. All of this must sound like music, "in" the music, and is why the "wall of sound" phrase is often used when commenting on Ministry.

In a live YouTube video, John Bechdel displays his tricky wizardly and correctly notes that while many fans may not hear just what is happening in some of those parts, if they were missing, it would be terribly noticed.

Bechdel has been in the band for quite some time and he deserves to be because he did a stunning job at his craft for "Just One Fix," "Stigmata," "Thieves," and "Burning Inside" during the night.

When Al sang some of the lyrics like, "I'm scared of the darkness in the light, I scare myself 'cuz I know I'm right. I see the evil in your're savage eye as it cuts right through the sky," the conviction and force could almost be touched like a manifested object. The singer often locks eyes with one fans, mimics that fans hand movements to show that it it happening, and the connection is outright tangible. This was done often during "Just One Fix."

One of the treats of the night was how MInistry half-timed "N.W.O." right when the song usually charges. This was an unexpected twist that almost worked like a breakdown. Little tweaks like this appeared in "So What," "Burning Inside," and other songs, as well.

Thieves was also so brutal when it's delivery that the Sonic intensity overwhelmed everyone present.

Everyone who watched did so in awe and every member of most pit released every bit of rage. Left or right of the political line, there is plenty to be angry about, after all.

What all of this means is that, sure, maybe Uncle Al leans so far lef that he makes Bernie Sanders look like George W. Bush and he may be needlessly hard on the Christian faith but with so much to offer, we can say a little prayer for Uncle Al as we seethe in the pit.

He is, after all, in Ministry.