With the theme to Suspiria pumping out through the speakers as a preamble, Marilyn Manson took the stage with a huge, glowing, red, psychic cross hanging overhead -- a nice touch. The distorted, driving bass line of "Hey, Cruel World" let us know what song was coming up, and Manson was in high form, switching between a high pressure melodic delivery and modulated, strained beyond regular human dimensions caterwaul/growl. Once the song ended, Manson joked with the crowd that the running suit he was wearing was good for him in Colorado.
See also: - Slide show: Rob Zombie and Marilyn Manson at 1STBANK Center - The thirty most hardcore fans from last night's Zombie/Manson show at 1STBANK - Q&A with Marilyn Manson on post-Columbine death threats and more - Q&A with Rob Zombie on Pee-wee's Playhouse and more
Throughout the show, Manson maintained a great balance between sardonic jocularity and the intensity of the consummate showman he is. Almost every song, there was an inspired costume change or a slight change in the set with subtle use of effects and props on stage throughout the show and those brought on for specific songs. At one point, Manson had on an outfit like he was a bishop decked out in red, including the mitre.
After "No Reflection," Manson had a word with us. "Denver and surrounding cities. I'm sure you came to see one thing besides the tits, dick or vagina of the person next to you, which is perfectly respectable." Then he transitioned, with the rest of the band, into "mOBSCENE." On one angled lighting rig, the word "obscene" appeared in diagonal. On the other, "mobscene." And it fit right in with the deft wordplay of the song itself. The way Manson delivered the words it just seemed obvious that his playfulness is filled with a cleverness more people should possess but rarely do.
In the middle of the set, Twiggy Ramirez let go with a tastefully complex guitar solo that segued into "Dopeshow." A lot of us have heard that song again, and again, and again. But it wasn't at all tired this night. When the word "DRUGS" appeared in lights to rise behind the band like a moonrise it really left no questions what the song was about, in case anyone was wondering or in denial.
One of the high points of the night was the performance of "Slo-Mo-Tion." Manson and company are better than ever on Born Villain. Musically, it's all Marilyn Manson dark humor, a sense of the absurd and swagger but with a Bowie-esque musicality that was first most first obvious with the release of Mechanical Animals but is now fully articulated with this material from the new album. With the lines of streaming light coming down the back wall to give the visual aspect of the song a sparkle, the song was presented differently from most of the rest of the songs in the set as well.
The lights were dimmed at one point for an extended period of time and then a doorway lined with small lights came on and Manson stepped forward in a suit and carrying red, white and blue balloons. Behind him, an American flag with the Antichrist Superstar logo where stars should be lined the entire back wall with an upside down American flag covering a speaker stack.
With the beginning salvo of noise, Manson's excellent cover of "Personal Jesus" made its introduction. At the end of the song, Manson took the American flag off the speaker stack and wiped away some sweat. Or at least pretended to, which was humorous on more than one level, considering the song he and the guys had just performed. The infamous cover of "Sweet Dreams" followed the Depeche Mode cover. It was surreal to hear a good portion of the crowd sing along with Manson's sepulchral delivery of the vocals. Even if it was predictable, it was refreshing to hear people sing along to a song they love without regard to whether or not they were getting it exactly right -- which isn't the point anyway.
For "Antichrist Superstar," the flag at the back gave way to a huge image of Manson looking like he could be the more intense brother of Gary Numan. The image, vaguely haunting, stayed up for the final song. Manson told us he electrocuted himself and his finger bled and, "Now I can't punch someone."
This led into his singing an almost croon of an intro to "Beautiful People," another song that pretty much got played to death years ago on the radio but Manson and the band performed the song like it was something they were excited about and just wrote. Beyond that, getting to see the song live gave it the proper sonic context. It wasn't meant to just be heard coming from a small box, it was best experienced seeing a band play like they were excited to do so. At the end, Manson had some parting words for us: "Colorado...Denver, Colorado...not my fault." Then he came back with a smile and said, "Best crowd ever."
Keep reading for a review of Rob Zombie's set and Critic's Notebook.
Before Rob Zombie went on, a huge drape with the image of King Kong on the front blocked us from seeing the set change and yet provided a compelling image from the stage when nothing else was going on, which was much appreciated. As the drape bearing King Kong's image dropped, Bach's "Toccata and Fugue in D Minor" issued forth from the speakers and a large figure like a techno-organic robot torso and head sat on stage, then caught fire.
Zombie took stage at a microphone stand made up of a skeletal figure with six arms. Zombie himself used an extension for his arms made up of skeletal figures as well. If Hell or Purgatory could be depicted in the most appealingly cartoonish way possible, Zombie and crew made it happen from the beginning to the end, starting with "Jesus Frankenstein."
For "Superbeast," fires appeared at the top of risers and other equipment making it seem entirely possible it would get out of control. For "Meet the Creeper" a collage of images of the Manson family with the names displayed evolved in the projections behind the band, making it look like a trailer, of sorts, for the controversial but excellent and vividly realized Jim Van Bebber film.
Throughout the show, Zombie pumped up the crowd and cajoled when it seemed people were acting like they were at home watching TV. But instead of just harping on that like a lot of performers seemed to, he just encouraged involvement and earned it with the sheer enthusiasm and energy he brought to this show. Maybe it was that Manson had had such a great set that he felt he needed to make his own just slightly more exciting, but one got the impression that Zombie just does this all the time regardless of with whom he's touring.
He got guys to lift their girlfriends on their shoulders more than once and otherwise wound up the audience like few people probably can these days.The latter part about getting women on the shoulders of some guys was apparently prompted in part by a review Zombie had read about the Salt Lake City show in which the writer said something about the Twins of Evil tour not being shocking but that the show was amazing.
Zombie had a laugh about this because clearly it's not a flaw in a show not being shocking. Shocking is primarily in the eye of the beholder and is no substitute for a solid show where you have fun. Zombie, to his credit, and Manson, too, provided one of the most visually, sonically and emotionally engaging shows you're likely to see all year.
After more jokes with the audience, including telling someone that putting a guy on his shoulders didn't count and that he knew that sometimes it's hard to tell, the band kicked into one of its most popular songs, "Living Dead Girl." For the whole show, an array of screens in the back displayed footage and images from various sources including classic monster movies and anime. For this song it was a kind of creative reconstruction of the footage from the original video. John 5's guitar face winked on and off with a hazy, white light adding to a cartoonish sense of the eerie.
Everyone recognized "More Human Than Human" right away and many sang along all while footage from Godzilla movies and episodes of Ultraman ran in the background. Before "Sick Bubblegum," Zombie told us more about the SLC review where it was supposedly claimed that Zombie never talks to the crowd and that he just yells obscenities. To which, Zombie replied to us, "Just because we yell shit, piss, cunt, motherfucker and asshole doesn't mean we don't love you. It's just our way." Of course the crowd had a good laugh at that. Following this, Zombie split us up into two teams with one side of the room chanting "Rock!" and the other "Motherfucker!"
Following "Scum of the Earth," scenes from House of 1000 Corpses came up, and naturally it was "Pussy Liquor," where Zombie engages in some humorous, what Robert Klein calls, single entendre. After this, someone informed Zombie that time was running short, so the band got to a larger-than-life version of "Thunderkiss '65," a song not short on that end of things.
In the middle, John 5 treated us to a bit of Randy Rhoads-esque guitar gymnastics. During that solo, Zombie dove into the crowd and came running through the front row and making contact with the audience. Then he got back on stage and the entire band went right back into the outro of "Thunderkiss" without missing a note.
Then Zombie asked us if we were still ready to rock, and of course he got a rousing affirmative response. So the band played an abbreviated but fantastically enthusiastic version of Alice Cooper's "School's Out." The band left the stage and a trailer for Lords of Salem came on. The outfit then came back out with Zombie standing atop what looked like a techno-organic, giant cat as designed by H.R. Geiger. As if a huge Devil, a Skynet style hunter killer robot, a bald, tall demon and other monsters weren't enough throughout the show. But all of it just made for such a strong show. The final song? "Dragula." Zombie may have pulled out a number of the classics, but he's also smart enough to know that you kind of have to play these songs so no one leaves going, "Well, I wish he would have played..."
Fireworks, even more rapidly shifting images and Zombie gesturing, giving his all up to the performance ended the show with an explosive display on which more, if not all, big rock shows should end. Zombie even got the crowd to chant "Zombie" one last time and then thanked us for the best night of the tour and then introduced the band. He seemed like he could have been slightly winded, but anyone not winded after a show like this is probably a robot.
Keep reading for more photos, Setlist and Critic's Notebook.
Bias: Longtime fan of Rob Zombie's music and visual art. I'm also an admirer of Marilyn Manson's humor and his ability to really get under the skin of some people with a sometimes lurid depiction of uncomfortable truths.
Random Detail: Went to this show with Kalyn Heffernan of Wheelchair Sports Camp.
By the Way: The design on the flyers for this show as well as the Twins of Evil Tour t-shirts is excellent.
Marilyn Manson 1STBANK Center - Broomfield, CO 10/2/12
Hey, Cruel World... Disposable Teens The Love Song No Reflection mOBSCENE The Dope Show Slo-Mo-Tion Rock Is Dead Personal Jesus (Depeche Mode cover) Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This) (Eurythmics cover) Tourniquet Antichrist Superstar (With "King Kill 33°" intro) The Beautiful People
Rob Zombie 1STBANK Center - Broomfield, CO 10/2/12
Jesus Frankenstein Superbeast Scum of the Earth Meet the Creeper Living Dead Girl More Human Than Human Mars Needs Women Never Gonna Stop (The Red, Red Kroovy) Pussy Liquor
Demonoid Phenomenon Thunder Kiss '65 Dragula
Continue on for more photos of DJ Starscream (aka Sid Wilson of Slipknot, who replaced J Devil -- aka Jonathan Davis from Korn -- on the bill) and more.