The Bridge Benefit Holds Some Suprises

October 20 [10:00 EDT] — Marilyn Manson was the year’s surprise special guest at the Bridge benefit concert this weekend, as he took the stage alongside the evening’s last act, the Smashing Pumpkins.

Manson, decked out in a fur coat and cowboy hat, was introduced by Pumpkins bass player D’arcy as “Billy the Space Cowboy” to the unsuspecting Northern California crowd.

The day of otherwise acoustic music was interrupted by the combo’s performance of two songs: the Smashing Pumpkins’ “Eye” and Marilyn Manson’s “the Beautiful People.” The pre-Manson Pumpkins set also included a slough of recent hits, “Tonight, Tonight,” “1979,” and “Bullet with Butterfly Wings,” all arranged acoustically for the show.

Event organizer Neil Young played two sets during the day, kicking off the concert in the afternoon, then taking the stage again in the middle of the show. The concert–a benefit for the Bridge School for children with severe speech and physical impairments, run by
Young’s wife Peggy–featured an impressive line-up: the Smashing Pumpkins, the Dave Matthews Band, Alanis Morissette, Metallica, Lou Reed, Blues Traveler, and Kacy Crowley, along with Young.

Morissette, appearing live for the first time since this summer’s Tibetan Freedom concert, played mostly new material. Only one song in her all-acoustic set, “All I Really Want,” came from her 1994 multi-platinum debut, “Jagged Little Pill.”

Among the new titles: “London,” “No Pressure Over Cappucinos,” and “You Gave Me A Wink,” which according to Morissette she hadn’t titled until just before she started to sing it that evening. She ended her set with a cover of the Beatles’ “Norwegian Wood.”

Metallica, playing on their home turf, also introduced some new stuff to the crowd. Singer James Hetfield joked that the unnamed song, which featured a live hurdy-gurdy player, came from their new album, “Reload.” Their acoustic set featured songs that went all the way back to the
band’s roots: “The Four Horsemen” from 1983′s “Kill ‘Em All” and “Fade to Black” off 1984′s “Ride the Lightning.”

As Hetfield joked that the band was just “f***ing around,” it wasn’t a huge surprise when someone in the crowd yelled out a request for “Free Bird.” Metallica half-obliged, playing a different Lynyrd Skynyrd tune, “Tuesday’s Gone with the Wind.” Hetfield also led the crowd in a singalong of “Nothing Else Matters,” which hardly had to be stripped down to fit the acoustic format.

The day had other highlights. Blues Traveler played early in the line-up, with front man John Popper returning to the stage twice throughout the show for harmonica jams with both the Dave Matthews Band and Metallica.

Lou Reed performed several Velvet Underground hits, including “I’ll Be Your Mirror,” “Pale Blue Eyes,” “Sweet Jane,” and “Perfect Day” as well as his own “Dirty Boulevard” and a few new tunes.

“I’m just so blown away by all the support we get in the Bay
Area,” said Young of the event. “All the bands we get… it just blows me away.”

This year’s was the eleventh annual Bridge benefit. Past line-ups have included Pearl Jam, Patti Smith, David Bowie, Sonic Youth, and Beck.