[Editor's note: Over the holiday season, SonicNet is looking back at
1998's top stories, chosen by our editors and writers. This story originally ran on Tuesday, Oct. 27.]
KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- Goth-turned-glam artist Marilyn Manson came to
this Midwestern city Monday night and showcased a live tour that will do
little to quell his detractors and a lot to solidify his image as the
sultan of shock rock.
Marilyn Manson kicked off the opening night of his highly anticipated
Mechanical Animals tour with a high-octane rock spectacle that
disappointed fans only in its lack of an encore. The 70-minute, 13-song
incorporated several elements from the shock rocker's past tours, as
as new elements that seem likely to draw fire from his legion of vocal
As if Manson's critics needed any more reasons to rail against his
concerts, the 29-year-old singer appeared eager to hand them ammunition
with the new tour in support of the recently released album, making the
most of the theatrical potential of songs such as "I Don't Like The Drugs (But The Drugs Like Me)" (RealAudio excerpt).
For the live rendition of the cut -- Manson's most enticingly
song to date -- a stage-long sign flashing "DRUGS" was lowered from the
ceiling. As the prop flashed with casino-like glitz, it seemed
increasingly hard to discern any sort of anti-drug message
from the song.
While his critics surely will have something to say about the choice of
props, his fans couldn't have been more satisfied.
"It was worth driving nine hours for," said 50-year-old Chicagoan Nancy
Alunni, who comprised half of what was probably one of the few
mother-daughter teams at Monday's show. Alunni and her 18-year-old
daughter, Alicia, have now seen 16 Manson concerts.
While several street debates erupted between members of a local
Manson's fans after the show, the scene outside the 3,000-seat
was uneventful prior to the concert. The relative calm contrasted
with the previous night, when conservative Christian demonstrators
with anti-homosexuality banners to protest at Manson's warm-up gig at a club
in Lawrence, Kan.
The always outspoken Manson used the stage as his pulpit,
preaching to fans
about the protesting of the previous night in as defiant a tone
"A bunch of protesters said they hated fags," Manson said
night's show, his voice oozing contempt. "I sucked every one of
While Sunday's show in Lawrence was a stripped-down, club-sized version of the
set, the Memorial Hall show featured the complete Marilyn Manson Glam-Rock
Revue. Onstage, his namesake band, which included drummer Ginger Fish and
keyboardist Madonna Wayne Gacy, was set apart on circular risers
the bottom with several static-filled televisions.
As a showman and creator, Manson is a stickler for detail, and the
televisions served a variety of functions for his performance. In addition
to highlighting the "God is in the TV" assertion from the powerful track
"Rock Is Dead," their blank screens seemed to underscore the numbness
brought on by the drugs that dripped thematically throughout the set.
The televisions' symbolic vacancy was particularly poignant later when
Manson staged a mock Nazi rally during the song "Antichrist Superstar," a
reprised number from his tour last year in support of the album of the same
While Manson's clear intention was to lash out strikingly at
vast majority of his fans in Kansas City were all too happy to
fists in the air in Manson's direction, demonstrating the type of blind
faith that Manson seemed to be speaking against.
During Mechanical Animals, Manson also brought back the
awkward stilts and
crutches he first used on the Antichrist Superstar tour.
that outing, the stilts played a grotesque visual role
accenting themes of
bondage and release.
On the current tour, however, with its focus on Manson's new glam-rock look
and sound, they felt more like mere leftovers. But they were leftovers that
this crowd consumed voraciously.
True to the current glam theme, Manson (born Brian Warner) underwent
several costume changes throughout the show.
He first appeared in the now-familiar blue bodysuit that includes
diamond-shaped sequin patches as well as a cutaway rear-end. In
5-inch-high platform heels, the already lanky Manson looked as gangly
and elongated as a praying mantis.
He later donned a leather trench coat and hat for a subdued run through
"The Speed Of Pain" before finally settling on a red, sequined teddy with
more matching platforms for the remainder of the show.
Despite the coldness of the televisions and the lyrics of songs such as
"Posthuman" ("God is just a statistic"), the Mechanical Animals
shows may prove to be Manson's most inviting tour ever.
New guitarist John5 adds a more organic sound with his acoustic work on
"The Speed of Pain," and backup singers Kim Nail and Kat Ayerz suggest a
sense of harmony (literally and figuratively) onstage heretofore unknown
for a Manson performance.
Lori Zinna of Kansas City, Mo., was duly impressed, though she didn't know
if any Manson tour could live up to his past performances, events that left
her both scared and fascinated.
"He put on a good concert," Zinna said. "He really gave of himself and put
on a show."