Ministry Performs Rare Synth-Pop Set at Cruel World Festival

Ministry surprised fans with a rare synth-pop set at the Cruel World Festival, performing songs from their early albums With Sympathy and Twitch for the first time in over 40 years. The 13-piece ensemble played 13 tracks, including "Work for Love" and "Effigy (I'm Not An)", which hadn't been performed publicly since 1984.

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Nitish Verma
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Ministry Performs Rare Synth-Pop Set at Cruel World Festival

Ministry Performs Rare Synth-Pop Set at Cruel World Festival

Industrial metal pioneers Ministry surprised fans with a rare synth-pop set at the Cruel World Festival in Pasadena, California on Saturday. The band, led by frontman Al Jourgensen, performed songs from their early albums With Sympathy (1983) and Twitch (1986), marking the first time many of these tracks have been played live in over 40 years.

Ministry took the stage at the Rose Bowl with a 13-piece ensemble, including special guests Charlie Clouser (ex-Nine Inch Nails), cellist Tina Guo, and violinist Mia Asano. The setlist featured three songs from With Sympathy, including "Work for Love,""Effigy (I'm Not An)," and "Revenge," with the former two tracks not having been performed publicly since 1984.

The band also played three songs from Twitch, including "Over the Shoulder,""Just Like You," and "We Believe," with two of these tracks not having been played since 1987. Additionally, Ministry performed their 1981 debut single "I'm Falling" live for the first time since 1984, and their first post-Arista single "All Day" for the first time in 37 years.

Ministry's performance of this early material was a significant departure from their signature industrial metal sound that they pioneered in the late 1980s and 1990s. Jourgensen had previously disavowed the With Sympathy album, going so far as to burn the master tapes. In a 2019 interview, he stated, "My hatred for this record was so deep... I had a barbecue party and I burned them on a barbecue. So, there's no existing original With Sympathy's. I just burned them."

However, Jourgensen recently revealed that his bandmates had reworked the old songs and presented them to him, which changed his opinion. "The guys in the band know I don't like this record," Jourgensen said in an interview with Rolling Stone. "They came up with all these new versions of all the old songs and then sprung them on me one night on the bus while I was on 'shrooms. I actually wound up going, 'Hey, that's not bad.'"

The Cruel World Festival, which featured a lineup of goth and new wave bands, also saw notable performances from Gary Numan, who played his landmark 1979 album The Pleasure Principle in full, and Blondie, who delivered a hit-filled set. "Isn't it weird to watch Hell freeze over in real-time?" posted one fan on social media, reacting to Ministry's unexpected set.

Ministry's synth-pop performance at Cruel World was a once-in-a-lifetime event, giving fans a rare glimpse into the band's early days before they transformed into industrial metal titans. With Jourgensen planning to retire from Ministry after re-recording With Sympathy and releasing one final album, this set may go down as one of their most unique and memorable performances.

Key Takeaways

  • Ministry surprised fans with a rare synth-pop set at Cruel World Festival.
  • The set featured songs from early albums "With Sympathy" (1983) and "Twitch" (1986).
  • Many tracks hadn't been played live in over 40 years.
  • Frontman Al Jourgensen had previously disavowed "With Sympathy", but reworked songs changed his mind.
  • This may be one of Ministry's most unique performances before Jourgensen's planned retirement.