Saturday, March 16th - History, Toronto

It was a nostalgic sight for a Saturday evening in Toronto, as goths, rivetheads, metallers, and 90s alt rockers of all ages converged at Drake’s venue History, for a sold-out industrial extravaganza from Ministry, Gary Numan, and Front Line Assembly. It’s a lineup that had teased Canada with multiple U.S. runs, and tickets were snapped up fast.

Front Line Assembly were shrouded in darkness as they ran through a brief set made up of mostly classic songs like “Plasticity” and “Mind Phaser.” Bill Leeb and Rhys Fulber’s act hasn’t changed that much since the late 80s, and frankly it’s a good thing. It was a bit odd seeing them as an opening act, and the short set definitely left you wanting more. It was also nice to hear tracks from 2013’s Echogenetic, one of FLA’s more underappreciated albums.

Gary Numan has spent the last 25 years gigging hard and building up an impressive modern catalogue. It’s no secret that Numan doesn’t really enjoy playing his 80s material so much. He’ll do one-off concerts where he runs through the old albums, but he views them as a concession to a specific segment of his audience. Since his 2000 album Pure, he’s been steadily releasing his own brand of industrial hard rock, and it’s re-energized both his songwriting and live shows. Only “Metal” and “Cars” represented his older work, with the hyped-up version of the former working very well alongside his newer songs. I personally could have done without hearing “Cars” again. It was obvious that Numan himself can barely stand it, not to mention that no matter how much you modernize it, the song is not a good fit for his current setlist. I think it’s reached the point where he could get away with it, and I genuinely think most people would prefer to hear “Down In The Park.” He and his band concluded with the double shot of “My Name Is Ruin,” which went a bit viral after inexplicably appearing in a 2022 episode of South Park, and “A Prayer for the Unborn” from Pure, Numan’s personal favourite of his songs.

About halfway through Ministry’s set, frontman Al Jourgensen thanked the audience for their patience as the band had opened with a handful of songs from their most recent albums, HOPIUMFORTHEMASSES (2024) and Moral Hygiene (2021). Thing is, their new songs are pretty great, and only helped serve to get the crowd hyped up for the more well-known material that followed. Standouts from the first half were the back-to-back pair from HOPIUM, “Goddamn White Trash,” and “Aryan Embarrassment.” I’ve seen Ministry here and there over the years, and this was easily the most energetic and crisp performance I that I can remember from them. Jourgensen himself was lively and chatty, mostly about Canada’s legal weed. The second half of the set was entirely made up of Ministry classics, with 3 songs coming off of 1992’s Psalm 69. But the biggest response came from the song “Thieves” from The Mind Is a Terrible Thing To Taste (1989), with the crowd hilariously singing along with samples in the chorus. A key ingredient here is Ministry’s current lineup, this time featuring guitarist Monte Pittman, formerly of Prong and Madonna’s band, as well as former Tool bassist Paul D’Amour who’s been with the band since 2019. At age 65, Jourgensen is releasing some of the best music of his career, and playing with one of the best lineups that Ministry’s ever had.  

Ministry is on tour with Gary Numan and Front Line Assembly in the U.S. through April 5th. Then Ministry heads out on another American tour supporting Alice Cooper and Rob Zombie. Check out the video for “Goddamn White Trash” below.

Thank you to FR PR.