The first show of a very busy week for gigs and, ironically given his use of imagery, Marilyn Manson is in town on Sunday night. The venue doors opened at 7pm, but the queue was still right round the corner when we got there around 45 minutes after that. Given the sell-out crowd, I hope the Academy had stocked up on cider and black…
Openers Krokodil strode confidently on stage at 8pm, and launched swiftly into half an hour of their own brand of heavy metal. I’d heard of Krokodil, but beyond that knew nothing of them or what to expect. What we saw was good enough. Not quite to my taste – maybe being familiar with the songs would help – but what they did, they did well.
As my wife pointed out, singer Simon Wright really knows his trade and the vocals were strong. The three guitars didn’t get the sound they deserved, though, with the mix at the Academy typically not up to standard. I could hear one clearly, a second could have been in a tin shed in the car park and the other may as well have stayed at home.
Despite this, Krokodil did a decent job and had obviously brought some fans with them. Their music wasn’t too “out there” to be of no interest to those attending for the headliner, and they may well have added to their following based on tonight’s performance.
Slightly after 9pm, though, the lights went down again and the God of Fuck (eventually) made it onto stage… after what seemed like three intro tapes and a pretty extensive test of the smoke machine.
Given the size of the venue, tonight would be a concert where Mr Manson would have to entertain the baying hordes using his own ability to enthral – old school style. The venue simply wouldn’t allow for many of the extreme theatrics to which we’ve been witness over the years (stilts, huge pyros, elevating platforms…), so how could he cope by relying on just the songs and his own personality?
From this moderate neutral’s perspective, pretty well. I know that Marilyn Manson is technically a band, but the focus for the whole show was on the frontman himself. Paul and Twiggy pretty much kept to their positions to the side of the stage while MM himself did the parading about and showboating. As you do.
Soundwise, it was a bit of a mush at times (yay, Academy), which was a shame. The times when I could hear Marilyn’s vocals clearly sounded good and he nailed both the harsher and regular styles throughout.
Unable to get himself up on scaffolding or elevate towards the ceiling, he opted to switch tactics and spent a fair amount of the show in the pit in front of the stage. While vocal interaction with the crowd was at his usual tacit minimum, there was no denying that this was showmanship rather than rudeness. Plenty of stuff was chucked out as souvenirs – a hat, sweaty towels, but thankfully not the broken bottles he was carving his hands with early on in the show… There was even one young lady invited on stage, though I think this was as much due to her wearing what amounted to little more than (rather tasty) underwear and flashing her boobs. Regardless, I don’t think this is a staple for a Marilyn Manson show and she got a hug from the man himself before she was ushered away.
Songwise, the set covered a fair bit of Manson’s now lengthy history though focussed on the classic Antichrist Superstar inslcuding two of the most popular tracks of the night in “Irresponsible Hate Anthem” and “Beautiful People”. The former resulted in a forest of middle fingers and the latter a significant amount of headbanging. The other loudest cheer of the night was for the ever-popular dark cover of “Sweet Dreams”.
“The Dope Show” was performed by a lead singer decked out in a Santa hat that had been thrown on stage by one fan. I confess when I saw something red and white landing on stage that I thought we had a Tom Jones style “knickers” moment. This was far more amusing!
Manson’s offhand, demeaning manner towards the crowd works well, but his desire to get up front and close to them (accompanied by panicky, beanie-wearing stagehand) so often throughout the set shows him up for the performer and character actor he is. He’s a showman, and this was a great show. Stripped comparatively bare compared to the last time I saw him (with Rob Zombie at the SECC), this was a different Marilyn Manson but by no means a weaker one.
Apologies for the poor pics. We couldn’t wangle a photo pass for this show so you’ll have to settle for the crap I got with my phone!