Ministry• Gary Numan• April 21, 2023• The Union
Reviewed and Photographed by Kevin Rolfe
It was a night of musical pioneers at The Union on April 23, 2023. Industrial Metal legends, Ministry returned to Salt Lake City with New Wave Icon, Gary Numan. Upon first hearing of this lineup, some might wonder if the matchup of these two is the right fit. But I can assure anyone curious that this was an excellent fit. Most of the fans walking into The Union Events Center donned all black. But there were some who went all out for the concert. I Saw huge mohawks, platform boots, sequin skirts, you name it. People were ready for this show. I had never seen either artist. Gary Numan was supposed to play in Utah this past winter but I believe his show was canceled due to weather. I was excited to see what was in store for me.
I would imagine when most people hear the name Gary Numan the first thing they think of is the song “Cars”. It would make sense. That song was a massive hit in the early MTV era and one of the songs that ushered in the New Wave era of music. I must admit, having never seen Numan live, I was quite excited to hear that song live. With bands like OMD and Human League, Numan was one of the first to bring electronic music to the forefront. I was excited to see him for the first time. I feel like I’ve known about Gary Numan for my whole life. It was about time I finally saw him in concert.
Gary’s sound has evolved over the years. I would say his music fits much more into the Industrial Music description than it does New Wave. Because of this, he was a great support for Ministry. Numan was joined on stage by a full band that included two men who looked like the demon version of the Hanseroth brothers in Brandi Carlile’s band. There was a gothic tone set early in the set and the fans were all about it. Gary Numan would play guitar at times along with making his way to a keyboard every once in a while. I thought the band sounded great and Numan seemed in his element posturing and singing on stage. When I was in the pit taking photos and after when I was amongst the fans, I enjoyed seeing people locked in on the performance.
The moment did come when Gary Numan played “Cars”. There was excitement in the crowd. Phones went up to record the performance. People danced differently than they had during the other songs. There was a flow of nostalgia throughout The Union. It was really cool to hear the song. Numan no doubt has performed that song a zillion times. But I can’t imagine the reaction he gets when those synths start. I loved that moment. Gary returned to his more updated sound with songs like, “Haunted”, “My Name Is Ruin” and “A Prayer For The Unborn”. Numan’s set was high energy and upbeat while keeping the intended dark undertones. I was happy to finally have seen him.
Gary Numan Setlist
Everything Comes Down To This
Love Hurt Bleed
My Name Is Ruin
A Prayer For The Unborn
Interestingly enough, Ministry started as sort of a Synth Pop style band before founder Al Jourgensen helped pioneer the Industrial Metal sound. We wouldn’t be getting any of that original sound in this show. This was going to be hard, rocking Industrial Music throughout. Which is what this crowd was craving. I loved talking to other photographers and hearing them tell me how much they looked forward to the show. One told me that Ministry was his favorite band and he was more excited to be covering them than some of the other huge bands he had covered in recent weeks.
The buzz before the set began was different than others I have experienced. It was almost like a caged animal waiting to be unleashed. Or a racehorse at the gate ready to hit the track. When talking to people in the front row the general consensus was just how much they loved Ministry.
The show began with five of the first six songs being from Ministry’s 2021 release Moral Hygiene. Jourgensen told us that we were only the second audience to hear the song “Goddamn White Trash” from their upcoming release, Opium For The Masses, Due out sometime this August. Al Jourgensen told The Union crowd that Salt Lake City was in the top four in North America for crowds. “I don’t know what it is, but you mother f*¢kers are crazy! Love coming here,” he exclaimed. The audience loved hearing that. And while I haven’t seen other Ministry audiences, I could see what he was saying. This crowd was ravenous for some Ministry.
Following their unreleased track, Jourgensen thanked the crowd for being patient with hearing the new stuff. He told them for their patience “Here’s some old stuff”. The “old stuff” began with fan favorite “N.W.O.”. The crowd had been patient with the new songs. But to me, they seemed really into each song. It was obvious, however, just how much they loved the classic songs. As “N.W.O.” began so did the swirling of a mosh pit. I haven’t been in a mosh pit in ages. There were about .5 seconds where I thought, “I should jump in. Just for the experience”. But then I remembered how completely beat up I lost both of my shoes and left that pit black and blue and realized it was probably best to just observe and sit this one out. It was an impressive mosh pit for sure.
The rest of the show was full of classic Ministry songs like, “Just One Fix”, “Stigmata”, and “So What”. Following “So What” their encore song, Jourgensen said a simple “Good night” and he left the stage. The band kept playing to the end of the song, they waved to the crowd and departed the stage. Music came over the house speakers, and the lights came on. A clear indicator that the night was over. Right? That’s what I and the thousands of Ministry fans thought. I stood at the back and saw people rushing out of The Union to catch an Uber or get to their cars. Just then, there was a stirring from the stage area. The crowd started cheering. The band stared coming back on stage. The lights went off and Al Jourgensen addressed the crowd.
“We decided to come back on. Because these people deserve it”. The crowd roared. People were racing back inside with bewildered looks on their faces. Others could not stop smiling. Ministry fan or not, imagine the show you’re attending is over but then the band comes out to surprise you with one more song. It was so cool. Ministry finished the night with a cover of Fad Gadget’s “Ricky’s Hands”. Another song that will be on their upcoming release. It was a huge surprise to everyone there and a great way to end the night. I can now check Gary Numan and Ministry off my list of legends I need to see.
Search and Destroy
Believe In Me
Goddamn White Trash
Just One Fix