Marilyn Manson: Live Aus Der Bible Belt

With a cover of the Eurythmics' "Sweet Dreams."

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.