Nearly two decades after he completed his first tour, Marilyn Manson still has the same diabolical fervor that made him legendary.
After a long sordid history of outrageous stage antics, the shock rocker still has a lot to offer, which he proved during his concert at Portland’s Roseland Theater on Feb. 13.
The venue itself was an odd location for such a huge event. The theater was small and not particularly flashy in terms of atmosphere.
Butcher Babies, a metal band from Long View, California, opened for Marilyn Manson. The band features two women on vocals, Carla Harvey and Heidi Shephard–an unusual dynamic for a metal band. Harvey and Shephard are backed by loud, droning power chords and heavy drum riffs. Most of Butcher Babies’ songs followed a formulaic metal structure, but what they may have lacked in originality, they more than made up for in sex appeal. They proved to be an effective show opener.
After the Butcher Babies performed, tension in the crowd was amplified when a dark curtain rose around the perimeter of the stage. The lights lowered, and Manson’s silhouette appeared behind the curtain, driving the crowd insane with anticipation. When the curtain dropped, the band launched into a powerful performance of “Hey, Cruel World.” From there, it was non stop madness. “Theatric” is the word that comes closest to describe Manson’s performance, but even that falls short. Each song saw Manson dressed in a new, elaborate costume. A particularly memorable moment occurred when Manson, dressed in the garb of a Pope, sprayed the audience with a fog machine while performing “The Love Song.”
Fog wasn’t the only thing Manson sprayed into his audience. During the show, Manson also covered his audience in fake snow, beer suds and cake.
Manson is certainly not shy about implementing props, but never did his use of props come off as forced or superfluous–each prop had its own significance, and only enhanced the experience.
The setlist was nothing short of brilliant. Manson struck a perfect balance between new material and old favorites. Diehard fans and new fans alike rejoiced each song as the band powered through. He still has his signature scream, and his voice has not lost its intensity. After the show, no complaints were heard from the audience about songs that were or were not played. Standout songs included, “Disposable Teens,” “The Dope Show,” “The Beautiful People,” “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This),” and “Antichrist Superstar.” Manson knows his fans, and knows which songs they want to hear. It’s that level of dedication that makes him so beloved by his fans.
Manson unquestionably has a way of captivating his audience. His shows also inspire a certain level of angst, which can lead to rowdy audience behavior. More than a few fights broke out in the crowd, which marred the experience somewhat. These weren’t brief scuffles, these were full-on brawls. With such a small venue, it’s expected to be a little cramped; anyone with claustrophobia would have done well to avoid this packed venue.
Before the show, I had the chance to meet Manson, which is a dream come true for any hardcore fan. The line leading up to Manson’s meet-and-greet booth was swarming with fans decked in platform heels, corsets and leather apparel-anything that could grab attention. Many faces were painted as an homage to Manson’s affinity for dramatic makeup.
Manson was kind and gracious to his fans. He shook hands, joked and signed autographs for all VIP ticket holders. Fans could bring in any item or Manson to autograph; items brought forth included shirts, copies of Manson’s autobiography, and even an electric guitar. Manson also posed with his adoring fans for pictures.
A solid setlist, captivating stage antics, and the chance to meet the Antichrist Superstar himself made this a night to remember. Manson has come a long ways and brought with him a storm of controversy, yet he has proved again and again that he’s a force to be reckoned with. His message of self-expression and defying social norms endures to this day and continues to inspire his fans. Marilyn Manson’s charisma knows no end, and shows no sign of slowing down anytime soon.