(Live Review) ROB ZOMBIE + ALICE COOPER + MINISTRY - Tinley Park Illinois (9/1/23)
By The Beard & Little Johnny
Today, my good readers, fans, and followers, your normal tour reviewing duo has become a quintet for show #52 and bands #233-236 of our 2023 The Reviews Never Stop Tour. As we hit September (and Labor Day Weekend), the motley crew of The Beard, & Little Johnny are joined by our security force of Greg (the Big Buffet) Hulke and Evil Steve, with special guest Evil Steve’s wife Emily, as we travel south to Tinley Park Illinois to catch the Freaks on Parade Tour featuring Rob Zombie, Alice Cooper, Ministry, & Filter.
Knowing this would be a full house event, our own merry band of freaks departed early in order to avoid the head-shakingly high cost of beer and food within the stadium itself by paying a visit to Hailstorm Brewery. We all agreed eight bucks for craft beer was a far better deal than the fourteen bucks at the stadium for crap beer. The food was better and cheaper too, and after a couple rounds and some lunch, we were geared up and ready for a night of rock/metal and mayhem.
Opening act Filter has been around for thirty years already, although frontman and former Nine Inch Nails touring guitarist Richard Patrick is the only remaining original member. No one else has been with the band any longer than since 2011. Filter has generally been considered grunge, industrial, and/or alternative. Their latest album is 2023’s The Algorithm.
All above descriptions of Filters sound are, in various ways, accurate. Traces of industrial were immediately evident as was the alternative styling of their music. On the third song, “Obliteration”, Patrick dedicated the number to Johnny.
Little Johnny said, “I’ve never even met that dude.” “Uh, I think he meant a different Johnny.”
“Take a Picture” got a good crowd pop and was the first song of the short set that the Beard remembered hearing before. Of course, “Hey Man Nice Shot” had to be the closer to cap their performance. Little Johnny liked that one quite a bit, and The Beard enjoyed seeing it performed live. Great crowd response. Overall, the Beard says, “Hey Man Not Bad.” 79/100
Next up was Ministry, another band the Beard had never seen live before. Ministry, hard as it is to believe, has been around for over forty years. Although originally formed by singer Al Jourgensen as kind of a synth-pop type act, Ministry achieved commercial success in the late 80’s and early 90’s with a three-album run, two which went gold and one platinum. These showcased a harder edged industrial rock/metal sound popular with fans at the time.
Although due to Jourgensen's substance abuse issues, Ministry largely struggled in achieving success through the late 90’s and early 2000’s, they have continued with periodic album releases, the last being 2021’s Moral Hygiene. Ministry has headlined Lollapalozza, and played Germany’s biggest metal festival Wacken in 2006, 2012, and 2016. Like Filter, no one other than singer Jourgensen has been with the band since before the turn of the century, but it’s still another big-name act that I’ve never seen live, so it was fun to experience them.
Ministry is much more in-your-face aggressive than Filter. Faster, harder and decidedly dirtier. The Beard liked several little touches on their stage set including interesting iconography on the big video screens (instead of just footage of the band playing live.) By the end of the first two numbers, “Thieves & The Missing" I was already enjoying both the sound, and the energy Jourgensen displayed running around the stage.
"Deity " & "Stigmata" were both strong (considering it was really the first time I had heard them.) They gave that industrial feel mixed with late 80’s/90’s grunge and, although The Beard was never really a grunge music kind of fan, I was enjoying their music.
Ministry did a cover of Black Sabbath's "Supernaut", that made it sound like Sabbath being played at some giant rave. Again, I enjoyed it as the drumming was pretty much on point Bill Ward while the rest was a bit like psychedelic Sabbath. "Burning Inside" and "New World Order" were likewise enjoyable slabs of hard/alternative/chaos metal. Ministry was able to really win me over on my first viewing of them.
Little Johnny said, “It’s Crazy Beard. Like angry protest music.”
While I thought "Just One Fix" was a closer worthy song, there was one more as the band instead went with "Goddamn White Trash" from their newest release. Honestly, the Beard is cracking a cold one and awarding Ministry a very high 92/100.
This will be the Beard's seventh time seeing original shock rock icon Alice Cooper and I’ve never once had a bad show. Whether he was headlining or not, Alice always gives his best, and this performance was to be no different. Right from the introduction, (which showcased to the audience that the Queen of metal guitar, Nita Strauss had returned to the Cooper fold for this tour), the band was off and running.
While the Beard will forever love the Cooper classics, some of the biggest winners tonight included lesser played hits like "Lost in America" & "Snakebite" (my first time hearing that one). Of course, the many costume changes and effects that make up any Alice Cooper show were in great supply tonight.
The Beard is also giving a special nod for an excellent "Ballad of Dwight Frye" featuring the straight-jacket clad Alice (with extreme close ups of his facials on the big screens), howling the repeated final lines “I want to get out of here.”, before the inevitable death sentence and guillotine portion of the show. As always, the execution was dramatically rendered by his wife Sheryl Cooper, and how much fun it must be for her to cathartically behead her husband every evening.
"Elected" was great visually as well as musically, and the Beard says given our current choices why NOT elect Alice Cooper?
Now, although as you can certainly tell, the Beard loves Alice Cooper, nevertheless it wasn’t perfect. There were a few cracks in his voice tonight, (especially on "Poison"), but the man is just such a veteran he covers it almost immediately with a sneer or growl and then is right back on it a second later. He is the consummate pro performer.
With ALL due respect paid to both Ryan Roxie, and Tommy Henriksen (who are both absolutely vital to the success of Alice Cooper's stage sound), having Nita Strauss back elevates the whole. The Beard loves a good lady guitarist, and Nita Strauss is on my female guitarist Mount Rushmore (along with Great Kat, Prika Amaral and Orianthi, for the 8 people who actually know who they all are.)
The Beard even got a little defensive as during the Strauss solo, Little Johnny said, “You know Beard, that broad’s kind of hot. I wonder if she digs IPA’s.” “Don’t even think about it little dude or I will find a new location on your body for that can of IPA!”
In the end, as always, Alice Cooper pounds out his usual great show and the Beard will once again crack a cold one for a very high 95/100.
Rob came out with "The Triumph of King Freak". As is normal for any Rob Zombie show, the stage is overwhelmed with tons of lights and special effects from the back screens to huge animatronics and moving set pieces. A Rob Zombie concert is a live musical play, as well as a concert. He stuck with newer numbers through the first four songs, and the Beard can easily applaud the song, “Well, Everybody’s Fucking in a UFO” as both a great number musically, and hilarious visually as the back screens showed a huge UFO beaming up cows throughout the song.
Then Rob talked a bit about the 25 years since his breakout album Hellbilly Deluxe and rolled through three numbers from that release. "What Lurks on Channel X", "Superbeast" and "Demonoid Phenomenon". Big crowd pop and sing-along for "Superbeast". I did notice though that even with a drum solo break, Rob seemed to get winded more quickly than I have ever remembered seeing. The Beard forgets sometimes that Zombie is a year older than me and honestly if I ran across that huge stage just twice, there would be no more singing happening because I would be on the ground requiring immediate oxygen.
I made the mistake of mentioning Rob’s age to Little Johnny who said, “Damn Beard, he moves great for 65.” “You’re becoming a real tool, Johnny.”
"Living Dead Girl" was okay, but not stellar. Perhaps Rob is getting tired of having to do that one every single night. He did rework it a bit, but it still felt a touch flat. "Thunderkiss 65" was also more about the crowd than the song itself. Rob did a couple false starts on this one just to fuck with all the people trying to record it on their phones yelling out, “Put the fucking phones down. I’ve been doing this one for thirty years. You don’t need another video of it.” Funny stuff, and probably true, but once again Rob vocally sounded a bit winded on this one as well. Granted he still ran around for virtually the entire set so to an extent the Beard is granting that a pass.
Of course, the encore and closer for the night was "Dragula", one of the nights biggest crowd pops. Points for the show, the effects, and Rob’s willingness to still try and give us over the top performances, but despite having the most to work with, The Beard had to rank the show just behind both Alice Cooper and Ministry with a 90/100.
Tonight, out of four bands, we had three ranking 90+. A great evening and everyone had a full and fun packed day/evening.
As we all cow plodded (with about 15,000 other people) out to the parking lot to head back, stop #52 of the season came to an end. A short break of a few days and then we’ll be back on the road once again with more musical reviews. Until next time keep reading us every Wednesday and Thursday at your home for all things metal ...
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Until we rock again this is The Beard & Little Johnny saying