So what’s on Ministry’s swan song live album? Those songs where he rails against Bush! Doesn’t narrow it down, does it. Okay, the ones aimed at George W. Bush. Wait, that’s not specific enough either. Fine then, we’ll get to that in a bit. Anyway, the Adios setlist is built from Ministry’s final three W-skewering efforts. “A live album without ‘Thieves,'” you ask? I can hear the indignation from here. Relax, it makes sense when you consider that the band’s early golden age has already been captured on the excellent In Case You Didn’t Feel Like Showing Up, and that they run through their mid-period choice cuts on Sphinctour. That said, this tracklist and running order does raise some eyebrows. Missing from Adios’ post-Sphinctour works are tracks from Dark Side of the Spoon (a low point I know, but “Bad Blood” would have been nice) and the visceral and underrated Animositisomina. Stranger still is the running order that groups songs both by album and by original tracklisting. Typically part of the enjoyment of a live album is the shuffled order of the band’s material, but that’s right, the album starts off with the first five songs from The Last Sucker, and then to the first four from Houses of the Molé, and then closes with four tracks (but not the first four, you know, just to get tricky) from the best of Ministry’s final three albums, Rio Grande Blood.
Thankfully, no matter what era’s material they’re performing, Ministry always slays live. Always. And the band’s later metalized industrial assault is perfect fodder for live performance, integrating sampled material and organic instrumentation into a raw, pulsing, and LOUD headbanging bloodlust. These songs come across live as more raw, but otherwise more or less exactly as they do on record (except that album closer “Khyber Pass” is a metric ton heavier than what’s found on its album version). The difference is that since the mix is different, you’ll often find yourself more tuned in to a certain aspect of the multi-layered songs. At times, this can make an average song more enjoyable, as on the prominent grooving bass line in “Worthless.” Jourgenson has always been a master of opening albums with an ace, and the first tracks of all three source albums are offered here. Hell, two of these songs, “Rio Grande Blood” and “No W” are probably the best songs Ministry’s done since Psalm 69. With that kind of hammering, red-lined molten industrial thrash being dealt out, it’s hard to complain about what else could have been on the album. Yeah yeah, if you don’t own the band’s earlier live albums that’s a better place to start, but Adios is a nice parting gift to the devoted, and convincing display of Ministry’s venomous capacities, even in the twilight of its lifetime. A band that will be missed.