With festival season in full swing, the number of gigs coming through the big cities is less frequent than what you’d normally expect. But despite this, there are still a few shows that can create a buzz. MINISTRY and DEVILDRIVER touring together is an odd billing but the package has resulted in a sold out show at The Ritz in Manchester. The question is now this, would both bands be able to live up to the huge expectations?
DEVILDRIVER have been enjoying a period of continued success. Releasing Trust No One earlier this year with a new lineup has brought reignited success for Dez Fafara and co. So, with the band serving as the only support band for MINISTRY all eyes were on DEVILDRIVER to make an immediate impact. Unfortunately, their entrance was not as destructive as one hoped, as sound issues plagued the balance of Dez Fafara‘s vocals and the backing music. Things did improve as the band continued and by the time the band took to perform I Could Care Less, things were back running smoothly. When problems subsided, DEVILDRIVER truly were a monstrous force. New members Austin D’Amond and Neal Tiemann appeared like they had been playing in DEVILDRIVER all their life, shining particularly well when playing the new material (Daybreak and My Night’s Sky) and Dez Fafara‘s on stage presence was a force to be reckoned with, whose consistent interaction with the crowd incited chaos in the pit.
With the set containing classic after classic, fans were treated to the best of DEVILDRIVER. Clouds over California pummelled the groove with slick riffs from Mike Spreitzer, Meet The Wretched spawned one of the biggest circle pits of the evening and Nothing’s Wrong packed a truly venomous punch. DEVILDRIVER‘s impact may have been subdued with the early sound difficulties but despite this, their performance more than proved they still have what it takes to throw a mighty punch in the live environment.
There’s no doubting the buzz for headlining act MINISTRY. Al Jourgensen had previously stated that he had only planned a few shows with MINISTRY so it came as no surprise that fans had flocked to the tour. For fans, their performance ticked all the boxes as hit after hit was performed. Just One Fix, Psalm 69 and Stigmata all made an appearance here and the band did a formidable job of matching their studio sound when it mattered most. Jourgensen was the centre-piece for the band’s on stage presence, a charismatic and enthusiastic character who consistently paraded the stage.
Whilst there is no doubting the energy and effort on MINISTRY‘s part, the problem is that the music itself lacks substance. Riffs quickly become repetitive and became tiring and the industrial elements to the band often were lost in the overall mix of the sound. Jourgensen‘s ego on stage felt marmite; fans lapped it up but to those on the fence, it became apparent that it quickly became more irritating as the performance continued. MINISTRY‘s appearance in Manchester felt like an occasion, a show big enough to hold its own merits, and for those who appreciate the band’s style, their enjoyment could not be contained. Yet there was just a feeling of strain, and that ultimately led to MINISTRY not living up to the hype. It wasn’t atrocious, but there wasn’t enough impact to make their performance truly stand out.
Check out our exclusive photo gallery of the night’s action in Manchester from photographer Christopher Ryan: