Marilyn Manson has forever been a storm of contradiction, exuding the perception of a megalomaniac leading disillusioned youth with music calculated to oppose all moral authority. And while much of his music may be calculated to push the buttons of the moral police, he is in fact, just an artist who has chosen his own path. On his path there is no need for contrition, because as he states on the track “Rock is Dead” from the 1998 glam-metal masterpiece Mechanical Animals, “Shock is all in your head.” The far leaning Christian conservatives of the world have long failed to see through this obvious transparency, and through their crosshairs, have helped put Marilyn Manson on a pedestal that has him laughing all the way to the bank.
Nearing the end of the US leg of the band’s Hey Cruel World…Tour, Marilyn Manson erupted with an hour and a half long set at the Myth in St. Paul on Friday, May, 18 in support of his 2012 release Born Villain. The band is now trimmed down to four, with long-time member Twiggy Ramirez back on bass, along with new members Fred Sablan on guitar and Jason Sutter on drums. The Myth was near capacity with the floor swaying as a sea of white people in black shirts. The tiered sides of the main level, and the second floor balcony, offered a safe haven to those who didn’t want to be swallowed up in the pit.
Opening the show was The Pretty Reckless, a four-piece rock band led by the tall and beautiful former model, Taylor Momsen. Unfortunately the band’s music didn’t match her beauty, which was unashamedly enhanced by a fan blowing her long blonde hair about. The Pretty Reckless lacked chemistry, and their songs didn’t pack much of a punch whatsoever.
It was nearly a 40-minute wait before Marilyn Manson took the stage behind a black curtain. After opening with “Hey Cruel World” from Born Villain, Manson, dressed in a short black trench coat and black pants, was quick to speak of the last time he was in the Twin Cities and how he was nearly jailed for sexually assaulting a male security guard working the pit in front of the stage. “I’m now an exonerated sex offender,” he said, bringing cheers from the crowd. The band then plowed through “Disposable Teens” from their fourth release, Holy Wood (In the Shadow of the Valley of Death), with Manson hanging from his tall mic stand with both hands.
It was five songs in when “mOBSCENE” really captured the crowd’s energy. Manson orchestrated the song crouched from the edge of the stage with a top hat covering his grotesque-flopped black hair. Next up was one of the band’s biggest hits, “Dope Show”. The backdrop of the stage rained down in gold strings of light, and Manson added his touch of glam as well, strutting around the stage with a vivid pink furred scarf contrasting his all black get-up. The song fell flat though, with Manson’s vocals showing no range and sounding thoroughly harsh.
A definite highlight from Born Villain was “Slo-Mo-Tion”. The rhythm section drove the song with a tight, straight-rock groove, while guitarist Fred Sablan added back up vocals and sparse guitar. This was the most unique song played all night, and a nice change in the set. The band then cranked through a hell-bent version of “Rock is Dead” from their third album Mechanical Animals. Manson started the song wearing a disco ball helmet that sparkled across the top of the crowd with help from a spotlight above. He then took charge crouched on a platform at the edge of the stage. This was the best song played all night, with the entire floor jumping vigorously to the groove.
Marilyn Manson has always chosen to cover songs full of dichotomy. Depeche Mode’s “Personal Jesus” on this night was far from spectacular, but the cover of Eurythmics’ “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)” was truly fantastic and another highlight of the show. After a short break, the band returned to the stage for the encore with Manson positioned high upon his high-voltage alter, ripping out pages from a bible and throwing them into the crowd during “Antichrist Superstar.” Before the song finished, he had crawled on top with his head hanging down the front of the alter, preaching out with a scream “Repent, is what I’m talking about.” Smoke machine jets shot from the ceiling on cue while the crowd screamed along with fists held high.
The night ended with “Beautiful People” from the band’s 1996 release, Antichrist Superstar. Manson shrieked out the entire song, pointing his mic to the crowd for the choruses, while the band hammered out raw metal. It was a fitting end for a far-from-perfect, hard-rocking performance that was very much enjoyable. Marilyn Manson may not have the presence he once did in rock, but after witnessing this performance, it is obvious that his edge has not dulled one bit.
“Hey Cruel World”
“The Love Song”
“Rock is Dead”
“Irresponsible Hate Anthem”
“Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)”
Review written for Twin Cities Daily Planet. Photos passes were not approved for this tour.