Review by Darren Kerr
Photography by Dan Zubkoff
Marilyn Manson is carrying on the fine tradition of the excessive rock star who could either flay you or fuck you, depending on his mood or the direction his codpiece points at midnight. As Manson himself puts it, "What we cannot fuck we kill." It's all about music and escape, and that's why scores of teenagers donned pancake makeup and black face paint and stood for hours by the gates waiting for their new anti-heroes.
I could best describe openers L7 as punk rock "Peter Gunn" played over and over in different keys with various window dressing. They opened with "Andres" and the audience cheered wildly, proving that high rotation on MuchMusic can elevate a mediocre song to borderline hit status. Either that, or people were just starved for the sound of a distorted guitar. Bassist Jennifer Finch has left the band and been replaced by former Belly guitarist Gail Greenwood. In Belly, Greenwood's hard rockin' presence contrasted well with Tanya Donnelly's indie pop goddess-ness, but in L7, she's just another hair-shaking midriff.
L7 played two other crowd pleasers, "Shit List" and "Pretend We're Dead." At this point, I was wishing they'd just go away. Another song was a plodding Melvins-ish throwaway only made interesting by a wicked guitar effect. There was hope, though, in the form of the fantastic raveup, "Lorenza, Giada, Alessandra." L7's new album The Beauty Process has been receiving excellent reviews, so maybe it was the fault of the mix which reduced Donita Sparks and Suzi Gardner's vocals to that of an unintelligible cat fight. The crowd ate it up, though, confirming that L7 are one of the few bands to survive the grunge backlash with their merchandise sales intact.
After a few ominous majestic intros, Marilyn Manson exploded onto the Forum stage playing "Angel with Scabbed Wings." The backdrop consisted of a faux stained glass tableau depicting an angelic Lucifer stepping on the neck of Jesus (and later expanding to reveal impaled angels), ornate stone statues, and a cathedral organ, and it was evident right away that this was Mr. Manson's domain. Clad in a corset and rags as on the Antichrist Superstar album cover, his movements, gestures, and facial expressions seemed effortlessly in sync, either the result of a great amount of rehearsal and choreography, or simply a great showman with his songs playing him.
Either way, songs like "Dried Up, Tied, and Dead to the World," "Tourniquet," and older songs "Get Your Gunn" and "Lunchbox" were performed flawlessly. "Sweet Dreams" was lit just like in the video, with Marilyn holding a bright light under his face. Twiggy Ramirez' bass playing was stellar on this song, his bass lurching and moaning dead tones while sliding high for the ringing harmonics.
"I am the god of fuck!" proclaimed Manson in the first verse of "Cake and Sodomy." From the screaming and squirming in the crowd, you could tell that there was an abundance of moist panties and boys wishing that they, too, could be fuck gods. At the end of this song, there was only one light illuminating Manson amid falling snow. (This is also where Manson stripped down to his G-string, showing everybody his pasty white ass.)
With "Antichrist Superstar" the band showed just how much power they possess as the lights came on to reveal a backdrop of three large black and red flags bearing a Nazi-ish descending lightning arrow. Manson stood manic behind a pulpit, looking like the child catcher from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, flanked by the band wearing silver metal helmets. Madonna Wayne Gacy and Zim Zum are the gristle and bone of this song, and on this night they drove the keyboard and guitar hooks home with a well-practiced malevolent vengeance, while Manson, like a psychotic marionette, gleefully ripped pages out of a Bible. The whole spectacle was like crossing The Wall with a Nuremberg rally.
The last two songs of the set were "The Beautiful People" and "The Reflecting God." The latter had the audience yelling, "Shoot motherfucker. We are not going to be oppressed by your Christian morality." So went the address of the United States of Manson. The backdrop changed to a massive flag with that same arrow symbol. The band then ripped into the first of three encore songs, "Irrepressible Hate Anthem," with the audience chanting, "We hate love, we love hate." After a vicious run through of "1996," the band left the stage, but returned with the restrained, "The Man That You Hate," which saw slow strobes used to great effect as Manson sang from behind a little tree.
The show ended on a note of pure transcendence as more snow wafted down from above. Manson left the stage with only the tree illuminated and blanketed by the snow. Beautiful, just beautiful...
Considering copying some of the images from this story?
Please read this first. Thanks.