Marilyn Manson – [Live]

Monday, 27 August 2007

Before now I had taken Marilyn Manson’s shock factor for granted. I had heard so many stories about him getting arrested for lewd acts on stage, there were pictures of him burning bibles and false rumors that he broke kittens’ necks during concerts. Because I had grown used to hearing these shock stories, it all seemed so commonplace that I didn’t think people cared anymore. In my mind, those who supported him either loved his shock factor or were unfazed by it. And I figured the people who hated him just regarded his repeated offenses as juvenile and inflammatory without purpose. My naïve view on the repercussions that Manson has had all changed when I had plans to see him on his latest tour and almost got fired for simply attending the show. The parents of a kid I tutor had asked me what I was doing that weekend, without even thinking I mentioned the Manson concert and a few days later got a call from them that they were concerned about my “negative influence” on their child. It was only after I promised to never discuss Manson again that I was invited back to continue teaching their son math. I imagine it was the Christian thing to do to forgive me of my supposed “transgressions.”

The Manson concert was at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre in Irvine and was also co-headlined by Slayer…the ultimate metal band versus the ultimate Goth rocker: it seemed like the perfect twist of fate for the metal heads and the Goth kids to finally battle it out. Judging by the diehard Slayer fans, I’m sure there is something to the metal genre, but I didn’t grow up in the 80s, so I guess I just never developed an appreciation. Manson, on the other hand, has had my respect ever since I laid hands on Holy Wood and Antichrist Superstar. Never having seen him live, I was psyched to even have lawn tickets to this show. Luckily, last minute I scored a press seat right behind the pit and temporarily traded my car keys for someone’s ticket to sneak my friend in. It was her first concert, so I figured getting her right in front at a Manson show would be an unforgettable experience.

A corseted Manson opened the show holding a knife-shaped microphone with “If I Was Your Vampire” off his latest album, Eat Me, Drink Me. Although it seems that the majority of critics didn’t embrace his most recent record as anywhere near his best, the live performance of his newest songs was done surprisingly well. Rather than force all of Eat Me, Drink Me, Manson chose to include just some of the more well-received songs such as “Heart-Shaped Glasses” and “Are You the Rabbit.” Though the majority of the show was comprised of old hits such as “The Fight Song,” “Dope Show,” “Sweet Dreams,” and “The Beautiful People.”

Perhaps the best part of the concert was the effort he put into making a statement out of his music. Virtually every song had a bizarre visual twist to keep a fanbase, already jaded to most shock rock, entertained. The visuals included Marilyn Manson tearing the head off of a robotic mannequin woman, caressing it like a lover and doing an unchoreographed burlesque type routine on a twelve-foot chair. The performance reached its peak when Manson performed “Antichrist Superstar” behind a huge podium like a political figurehead and proceeded to set a bible on fire, throwing it behind him once the flames engulfed the pages. I suppose now I can understand how his actions can be considered incendiary by some. No pun intended.

The evening seemed like a continuous display of well-rehearsed defiance captured in Manson’s wails and actions. But I think the most thrilling part of watching Manson perform is observing him act out his deviant nature. Most of us rarely exercise our First Amendment rights beyond the level of social comfort. Watching someone continuously make parents, politicians and teachers squirm can be satisfying in itself, especially when some of those very people, so keen to uphold the First Amendment as sacred, are scrambling to come up with exceptions to that right lest their children learn to burn bibles too.

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