Endless media debates over Marilyn Manson's underlying "motivation" for what
he does (is he a "threat?," a "fake?," etc.) shouldn't be allowed to divert
attention from the fact that as was recently noted by characters as
diverse as the Manic Street Preachers' Nicky Wire and glam-punk grandaddy
Iggy Pop when it comes to live rock 'n' roll, few in 1999 do it
better than Mr. M. And the fact that he does it in front of large audiences
of young people in an age when hard rock and for that matter rock 'n'
roll in general is in pop cultural eclipse, is even more impressive.
No doubt about it: Marilyn gives good show.
Thus we have this live artifact, which will be seen by many as a quickie
cash-in type thing. But the fact is that this little disc showcases a band
that shakes the foundations and raises the roof about as well as any outfit
out there today, give or take a Rammstein or two.
Anyway, The Last Tour On Earth makes a solid case for the musical
abilities of "Marilyn Manson: The Group." Swagger, dynamics and atmosphere
are the key ingredients in thunderous versions of songs such as
Mechanical Animals' "Great Big White World" (RealAudio excerpt)
and the band's infamous gothic cover of Eurythmics' "Sweet Dreams," which still sounds as inspired
an idea as ever. "The Dope Show" literally sleazes along on Twiggy
Ramirez's throbbing bassline and some soul-styled backing vocals, with
Manson extemporizing, "The drugs, they say, are made right here in
Cleveland" to enthusiastic applause. A crowd in Cedar Rapids are treated to
a spoken word vision of drugs, drugs, more drugs and policemen performing
fellatio prefacing the "Fame"-on-steroids metallifunk of "I Don't Like the
Drugs (But the Drugs Like Me)." (RealAudio excerpt)
Acoustic (!) set closer "The Last Day on Earth," (RealAudio excerpt)
meanwhile, strikes a suitably Bowie-esque note of melancholy that
belies the cynical trawl through societal sleaze and hypocrisy we've just
experienced. Tacked-on studio track "Astonishing Panorama of the Endtimes"
hearkens back to the more abrasive industrial sound of Antichrist
Superstar while counseling somewhat predictably at this point
"Kill your God/ Kill your TV." But hey it rocks, dude.
Last tour on earth? See you in 2000, Mr. Manson.