the demon Manson

Much Ado Over Nothing

Marilyn Manson
with Powerman 5000
PNE Forum
Vancouver, B.C.
Wednesday, July 23, 1997

Review and photography by Rodney Gitzel

a message from Calgary I was in Edmonton, the week before this show, and I watched with curiousity the growing cafuffle in Alberta -- and Calgary in particular -- over the impending arrival of the demon Manson. Ultimately, the show in Calgary was cancelled by the people controlling Max Bell Arena -- but only after a judge ordered them to pay a bond to cover what the show's promoters would sue for. And who was controlling Max Bell Arena? None other than Larry Ryckman, fresh from being booted from the Alberta Stock Exchange for various alleged stock swindles. Hmmm. You don't suppose this was more a public relations attempt to recurry favour with Calgary's right-wing community (i.e. the people with money to invest) than it was an attempt to protect the virtue of Cowtown's young? Nah...

Manson Anyway, the show in Edmonton, just a few days after this Vancouver show, was about 100 tickets short of a sell-out, with all of Calgary's pierced bodyparts making their way north for the show. ("Why didn't we think of this before?" you can hear Calgary's right saying. Maybe Ryckman will start booking Marilyn Manson on a regular basis -- in Edmonton.)

And all this over what? Well, surprisingly, over not much at all. I certainly wasn't expecting the feared dog executions and live sex shows that Calgarians were going on about, but I was expecting a little more from Marilyn Manson in the theatrics department. For the Vancouver show, at least (no telling what they did in Edmonton), the band came out, played their songs, knocked over the drum kit -- and left. Pretty normal, for a rock band. Well, ok, they were a little weirder than that -- but not by much.

guitarist Zim Zum The band arrived onstage to a HUGE round of screaming (especially of "TWWIIGGGYYYY!!"), and launched into the show. From their feet I took their pictures, got sweated on (oooo! Marilyn Manson perspiration to go with my Paul Stanley saliva!), avoided the throngs pouring over the barricade and thought about how awful the band members look in all their makeup. After three songs I got the boot, like usual, and had to take my camera home in a hurry to get back.

By the time I got back, the lights were out. A single white spotlight then showed just Manson himself, with a banjo, from the looks of it. "Minute of Decay" (I think) followed, far more an incantation than a rock song. It was about this time that I began to wonder when the theatrics would start, though sources in the pit tell me I had missed Manson breaking a wine bottle and then cutting himself with it ("the blood looked real," they said). Oh, the horror! Still, not as impressive as watching the singer from Malhavoc carve a pentagram into his chest with a razor-blade a few years ago, but, oh well.

Manson It was a fairly good show. Pure noise & flashing lights, for the most part, but it works. They're enough of a band to not necessarily need theatrics to keep your attention. The dramatic falling of curtains and cranking of sounds and lights for the Nuremberg-like "Antichrist Superstar" was cool, though not as cool as watching thousands of three-finger salutes punching the roof on cue. (Odd, you'd think the fascists would want to encourage this sort of behaviour in youngsters... )

After "Beautiful People," Manson finally broke his silence: "How many came from Calgary? Can you say, 'Fuck Calgary!'?!?" (Evidently they can.) He followed by leading the crowd in a group reading from "The Reflecting God" ("Shoot shoot motherfucker!") before tearing into the song. Then the lightning bolt banners were covered with a HUGE U.S. flag -- maybe 30' by 70'? -- with a lightning bolt instead of stars. The band raged through "Irresponsible Hate Anthem," the keyboardist went apeshit, the crowd got into the "we hate love, we love hate" chant and Manson wiped his bum with a (smaller) U.S. flag (enough to give the average Calgarian an aneurysm, no doubt). Manson finally attacked the drum kit with his mic stand, pulled the drums over onto the floor (oddly, they kept playing... ) and that was that. Not a mutilated animal in sight -- or do they save that for the after-party?

PM5K bassist and his braids Openers Powerman 5000 didn't disappoint, in a sense. When I heard their Mega!! Kung Fu Radio album, I thought, "Eeew, a lukewarm Biohazard." So I didn't expect much, and they weren't much. Yeah, sure, they had energy, they had athleticism, they had wild hair braids (well, the bassist did), but... they just didn't have it. They weren't at all compelling. And if you make a list of all the bands that yell a lot (the Beastie Boys, for a very applicable example), then Powerman 5000 will sound like each of them, at some point -- but they never quite sound like 'themselves.'

The saddest thing was the singer's admission near the end of their set that "this is the best show we've had in a long time... and that's the truth!" Yikes. Oh well, far better to spend one's time over at the t-shirt wall, looking at the Marilyn Manson shirts... "When I'm God, Everybody Dies," "Sex is Dead" and, perhaps most telling, "American by Birth, Antichrist by Choice."

First published in Drop-D Magazine on August 1, 1997

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