“Pensacola, you sat through an hour of our political statement of what we feel this country is going through now, which may be cool with you or not, we don’t fucking care. Since you sat through that, we figure we owe you another set. This is off The Land of Rape and Honey.” – Al Jourgensen.

With those words, Al Jourgensen led Ministry and Pensacola, Florida into “The Missing”.

A week before playing a sold-out Madison Square Garden as special guest on Slayer’s “Final Campaign” Farewell World Tour, Ministry kicked off a select run of headlining shows with a performance at Vinyl Music Hall.

A dream come true. 20 years after I bought “In Case You Didn’t Feel Like Showing Up”, I finally witnessed a live experience that I’d watched a thousand times on VHS tape. I saw Ministry live in Pensacola, Florida.

In the late 80’s of my high school years, I absorbed the “The Land of Rape and Honey” and “The Mind is a Terrible Thing to Taste”. In 1992, during my freshman year of college, Ministry released “Psalm 69: The Way to Succeed and the Way to Suck Eggs”. Jourgensen’s message more brutal as the music pushed the extremes of everything that had ever been recorded before.

When the concert was announced, I immediately thought of friends who also listened to/love Ministry. The first person I thought of was Jason Cook, musician and Senior CyberSecurity Specialist at AppRiver. I could think of no one who appreciates Ministry more than Jason. In 2001, at a party, we spent hours talking about the band while he played his favorite Ministry riffs on his guitar. It was one of the first connections we made and we’ve been friends ever since.

Nearly two decades later, I asked Jason for his thoughts on the upcoming show, Ministry and the music.

“I know a lot of people see (“Psalm 69”) as their crowing achievement and I’d be intellectually dishonest not to agree,” he said. “But I’ve kept up with them all this time and some of my favorite Ministry songs are on the later sludgier albums, namely “The Fall” and “Dead Guy” (from Filthpig/1996) and “Bad Blood” (from Dark Side Of The Spoon/1999.) Then there was a return to form with Houses of the Molé in 2004.

The Pensacola show would not be Jason’s first Ministry concert. That honor was a unique experience in another place in Florida years ago.

“In a Ministry-appropriate strange turn of events, I saw them for the first time in Disney World on Halloween,” he said.

When I asked what Ministry meant to him, Jason said.

“The soundtrack to my youth, and depending on how my day’s going, my adult brain. It all started with “Thieves” and then when “Psalm 69” came out, my world changed.”

Jason also added his thoughts on the influence of Jourgensen.

“Al’s influence on music, the aesthetic of movies and art in general cannot be overstated,” he said. “Considering what Al’s done to himself chemically all these years, it’s amazing that I can somehow still say he’s a creative genius and a musical hero to me. Between the found sounds, samples, harsh beats and desperate lyrics, he always comes through with some grotesquely beautiful compositions. Like H.R. Giger paintings for the ears. And I couldn’t imagine my life without them. Also, Jourgensen’s book makes Motley Crue’s The Dirt read like Good Night Moon. Suck it, hair farmers.”

Controversy followed the announcement that Ministry was coming to Pensacola. On social media, comments declared the band “too political” for the Deep South Red State of Florida.

“They’ve been political for decades,” Jason said. “Your ticket did not say “Third Eye Blind,” did it?”

Right before the show started, I asked Jason what song was he most looking to forward to hearing.

“Thieves,” he said. Then my wife asked me the same question. “Burning Inside” was at the top of long wish list for my first Ministry concert.  The entire show was a highly anticipated moment full of Ministry die-hards. But it was something special seeing Ministry play in our hometown. Something I never imagined.

“To be able to drive right downtown and see one of my all-time favorites, you hit the nail on the head with ‘dream come true,’ Jason said.

That night, Al Jourgensen, Sin Quirin (guitar), Paul D’Amour (bass), Cesar Soto (guitar), John Bechdel (keys) and Derek Abrams (drums) crushed Vinyl Music Hall with a set of unapologetic political anthems followed by a set of Ministry masterpieces.

No encore was needed. As if from Jason’s lips to Al’s list, Ministry granted his wish and ended the band’s first show in Pensacola with the pummeling of “Thieves”.

-Michael Hulin-Smith


Rezolve opened the show as local support


Ministry Setlist Vinyl Music Hall, Pensacola, FL 11/01/19

  1. Twilight Zone
  2. Victims of a Clown
  3. We’re Tired of It
  4. Wargasm
  5. Antifa
  6. Game Over
  7. AmeriKKKa
  8. The Missing
  9. Deity
  10. Stigmata
  11. Jesus Built My Hotrod
  12. Just One Fix
  13. N.W.O.
  14. Burning Inside
  15. Thieves