Marilyn Manson preached to the sold-out Fillmore Auditorium on Wednesday. But is his schtick — knife-microphone included — getting a little stale? Photos by Reverb contributor Laurie Scavo.
So I was well-prepared to see Manson on Wednesday at the Fillmore Auditorium. Manson is one of those bands that every one should see at least once, regardless of your opinion of the music. Just as with acts such as Kiss and Alice Cooper, there is a lot more than meets the ears.
The first thing that caught my attention at the Fillmore was the crowd. Sure, the red-haired, Wiccan-wannabe, bad-poetry-writing girl-in-a-cape was there. And the aging metal guy with the too-young girlfriend showed up, too.
But for the most part, the crowd seemed as vanilla as any Denver could produce. I suddenly got the feeling that, if polled, half the room would admit to not having a Manson album at home. From the look of the crowd, fans go to Manson shows for the spectacle instead of the music.
Regardless of why people showed up Wednesday, the one sure thing is that they showed up. The show was sold out before I picked up my tickets at will call, and if you have ever seen the line at a sold-out Fillmore show — especially one with tight security measures, like this one — you know it wraps around the block. So I missed the opener Ours, save for the last song, which sounded as cliché as singer Jimmy Gnecco last’s quip, “Let’s get going — there looks like we have a lot of girlfriends to f**k out here.”
As Ours ended its set, I made my way up to the mezzanine level by the stage’s side and the curtains were pulled to conceal the set change. As the stage crew took what seemed like hours to prepare for Manson, the crowd filled out, and the magnitude of the Fillmore was realized. From my perch above the stage, I could see into the changing area, and I quickly recognized the set as the same one from last summer — just scaled down to fit the indoor setup.
As we approached show time, I could make out the recent addition to the band: Twiggy Ramirez, looking like a scarecrow. The longtime Manson sideman had left to play with Trent Reznor and Nine Inch Nails, as well as pull bass duties for Maynard James Keenan’s Tool side project, A Perfect Circle. But now he’s back.
I saw Twiggy play with NIN the last time they came to the Fillmore, and it was clear that he was an accomplished guitar player. But while playing with Reznor seemed to allow Twiggy to exhibit his guitar prowess, the two had a falling out, as seems the trend with Reznor and pretty much everyone he works with (Manson included.) And now Ramirez is back supporting his longtime collaborator and friend.
The show started with a bang, and fans were instantly made aware that, regardless of their opinion of Marilyn Manson personally or artistically, he is an entertainer. He seems at home in front of everyone. And despite statements like “We hate love” and a persona that exemplifies the morose and despairing, he looks like he is having fun when he’s on stage.
Even though the crowd had to wade through some of the newer material, he played hits like “Revolution,” “Disposable Teens,” “Dope Show,” “I Don’t Like the Drugs” and “The Beautiful People.” Manson dedicated “Mobscene” to Hunter S. Thompson.
All in all, it was a normal Manson show, which is to say that it was bigger and brighter than your average rock show. But there where points that lulled, specifically during the new single “Heart Shaped Glasses” — a bit of a slower song for Manson that fluttered about like the copious amounts of confetti being pumped from the ceiling. (Seriously, like Wayne Coyne-levels of confetti.)
Manson pulled out his regular bag of tricks: cutting a head off a mannequin, standing on a pulpit, showing off his bony body, burning a bible … but it all seemed a bit redundant, and one has to wonder if this is all he has to offer.
How will he stay relevant? Is he even relevant now? Eventually you have to follow up spectacle with substance — and that seems to be a lacking commodity in the Manson camp.
The man wrote some hits, and no one can diminish his level of success, despite his off-color approach to everything. But as the girl next to me said (when she wasn’t singing all the words to his popular songs), “It’s Manson, you know. Just a good time.” When you have gone from freaking out the whole country to breaking into the mainstream to being “just a good time,” maybe it’s time to hang up the buttless pants.
All photos by Reverb contributor Laurie Scavo.