Ministry Front Line Assembly Gary Numan

Ministry, Gary Numan, & Front Line Assembly Make History In Denver, CO 4-2-24

When chatting with fellow peers about musical interests you will always encounter a few bands that are mentioned to the other party that they are not familiar with. Reactions however to the differences in musical variety simply depend on who the band is. Mention a local, ‘thrilling,’ Screamo Core band who barely got their Instagram started a year ago; and no surprise your fellow partner in verbal exchange has no idea what you are talking about. Mention a mid-level band with a decent following to back it up and you start questioning the person’s authenticity. 

Don’t know someone of such proportion that they are literally held up as godfathers to a particular sound or approach? Well in that case, the person is a narc… run! Needless to say three of just such bands – Ministry, Gary Numan, and Front Line Assembly – unleashed a tour this year, which without a doubt is one of the most anticipated since the return of touring post COVID.

Hard to believe how the music gods blessed us with a trifecta of sonic mastery, with each a headliner in their own right, here we all are just a little more spoiled. Needless to say, not many ‘Narcs’ were present as the tour pulled up to the Mission Ballroom in Denver, CO on April 2, 2024. Instead, it was a packed house of rabid multigenerational fans who were anxiously ready.

To kick off the masses’ appetites, Industrial legends Front Line Assembly wasted no time in delivering the first helping of musical madness. Formed by frontman Bill Leeb in 1986, with initial self releases Nerve War and Total Terror Part I FLA laid a blueprint to their unique electronic sound that would continue to be built on for years to come. In fact one could say the beats and patterns in those early albums; including 1988’s Disorder and 1989’s Gashed Senses & Crossfires which were doorways to blending elements of Industrial Metal for an even heavier sound. 

That sound came out more with 1990’s Caustic Grip, but truly exploded with 1994’s Millennium. This considered, FLA wasted no time starting with the track “I.E.D” from their 2010 epic album Improvised.Electronic.Device, and it was much to the approval of the audience. Longtime FLA member Rhys Fulber busting out the synth lines and samples, perfectly wrapped in the guitar grooves laid down by Ex-Skinny Puppy Guitarist Matthew Setzer, all methodically punctuated by Jon Siren (Psyclon Nine and IAMX) on drums.

When the familiar sample from Michael Douglas in 1993’s Falling Down We are not the same, I’m an American, you’re a sick asshole,” came on, fans knew it was time for one of FLA’s hardest hitting and infectious “Vigilante” off of Millenium. From mosh pits to aggressive Goth dancing, the celebration may have varied, but the love for the music was universal through the room. 

Keeping the sonic sensation going Bill Leeb and company jumped into a rare live selection treat, “Neologic Spasm” from 1995’s Hard Wired. As the band closed out with their title-track “Millenium,” the crowd was beyond warmed up for Gary Numan and Ministry.

The 1980s was always known as an age of excess, and sure excess in most aspects of life can be incredibly counter productive, having an excess of musical genius is one problem worth having. Gary Numan was part of that musical excess from the 1980s. Sure, everyone remembers the unforgettable single from 1979 “Cars” from his debut album The Pleasure Principle, but there is so much more to his catalogue and history. 

Armed with chart topping albums, like 1980’s Telekon, Numan helped usher in a whole new approach to electronic music and its compositions. If that was not enough he began to really experiment with different sounds and approaches to reinvent himself, not unlike artists like the one and only David Bowie. His third album, 1981’s Dance, truly unleashed his need to constantly evolve as an artist. With these immense gifts of musical composition, evolution, and a catalogue spanning over 40 years the audience was ready for what he had in store for them in Denver.

So, many wondered what his setlist would look like playing alongside heavy acts like Front Line Assembly and Ministry. Answering the call, he kicked off with the crunchy, dark, and hard hitting track “Everything Comes Down To This” from 2013’s Splinter (Songs from a Broken Mind). Showing he was there to take no prisoners, the audience was immediately in a complete spell, mesmerized by not only the sound, but Numan’s sheer energy on stage, showing he is ageless as he launched everywhere on the stage. 

Furthermore, the band around him did not take long to get the party back in full motion with the track “Halo” from 2009’s Jagged Edge album filling the venue with trance inducing rhythms laced with crushing guitar work. Then as Numan got the track “The Chosen” from 2021’s Intruder going, one could not help but think that while so many artists get softer as they age or seem less motivated in their compositions, he has gotten darker, heavier and almost seems with more purpose as time progressed. 

In the spirit of keeping audiences guessing, the iconic artist then played his classic staple “Cars” almost in the middle of his set rather than a closer, but no fear the dancing audience were ok with it. Lastly, he closed out the set with one his hardest hitting singles to date,“My Name is Ruin” from Savage (Songs from a Broken World), leaving the audience in a state of exquisite breathlessness.

The spirit of rebellion is the core to any true band in the realm of counter culture. Bands that were part of it, fought everyday to be the proverbial middle finger that is flaunted in the face of authority. Ministry has not only been such a band, they are happy to give you a kind “fuck off” if you don’t like it. 

Founded by “Uncle” Al Jourgenson, since the release of Ministry’s first album, 1983’s With Sympathy, it was clear he was not going to make “conventional music”. The band’s third release, 1988’s The Land of Rape and Honey, was an album that till this day is regarded as cornerstone album of what we call Industrial. Their 1989 follow up album, The Mind is a Terrible Thing to Taste, was an album that helped forge a marriage between Metal and Industrial that is still influencing bands to this very day. Moving forward, in 1992 Ministry perfected that marriage with their iconic album Psalm 69: The Way to Succeed and the Way to Suck Eggs.

In a time when a good jolt of the spirit of rebellion was needed, Ministry was more than happy to answer, and their first response in Denver was the track “B.D.E.” from their latest album, 2024’s Hopiumforthemasses. The crowds unleashed their approval with a solid mosh pit and screaming to every word. As the band jumped into “Goddamn White Trash,” also from their newest album, the crushing guitar work of Cesar Soto and Monte Pittman were unrelenting; perfectly coupled with the bass lines of Paul D’Amour, blasting drums of Ray Mayorga, and layered with the synth work of John Bechdel. 

The first half of the set was more recent material from the new album and 2021’s Moral Hygiene with the track “Alert Level” and “Broken System”. However, the second half of the set was the one for all you hardcore ‘old school fans’ kicking off with not only the classic track “N.W.O..” as a mosh pit erupted. 

As bodies clashed and banged to tracks like “Just One Fix,” “The Missing,” and “The Deity” it felt like being teleported into one of those classic Ministry shows… well minus the fence. Then, as Ministry closed out the night to “Burning Inside” and “So What,” the real treat was saved for last when they were joined on stage by Gary Numan to do a cover of Fad Gadget’s “Ricky’s Hand.”

If you missed this tour, we recommend you find yourself a DeLorean and get your ass back in time; because that was by far one of the greatest musical nights in modern Denver concert history. Great tour, great lineup, superb music, and 3 legends on one stage making it by far one for the books.

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