Manson's Good Side
By Jane Stevenson, The Toronto Sun

"A combination between Sex Pistols and Cirque Du Soleil."

That's how shock-rocker Marilyn Manson described his provocatively named "Guns, God and Government" tour in an exclusive Canadian print interview with The Toronto Sun .

"It's very theatrical but it's very raw," said rock music's Grim Reaper, who is touring on behalf of his new album, Holy Wood (In The Shadow Of The Valley Of Death). "It's very bombastic and very rock and roll."

While Manson's sold-out Saturday night performance at Massey Hall didn't exactly live up to that pumped-up billing, it definitely had its moments.

Where to begin?

How about Manson's initial appearance, in shadow behind a white curtain, with what appeared to be two enormous bat wings growing out of his sides?

Smoke swirled up from the stage, distorted vocals pumped through the speakers and lights flashed.

Unfortunately, the subtlety ended there.

The curtain dropped, the black "bat wings" were pulled away, and for the next 80-minutes, it was over-the-top props and costumes aplenty as Manson and his band -- the dress-wearing bassist Twiggy Ramirez, guitarist John 5, keyboardist Madonna Wayne Gay and drummer Ginger Fish -- let loose with some incredibly loud, and hard, rock and roll.

The music, particularly new songs Disposable Teens, The Fight Song, Cruci-Fiction In Space, In The Shadow Of The Valley Of Death, The Love Song, and older favourites The Dope Show, Sweet Dreams and The Beautiful People, was the good part.

But the accoutrements -- everything from Manson decked out in stilts, braces and crutches to a papal hat and robes -- often seemed forced more than it was entertaining. And that included the backdrops of a baby being crucified and a burnt American flag, an explosion of silver confetti, and a platform that raised the singer, dressed in a long, black skirt, high up towards the lighting rig.

KISS Handbook

As for Manson, who borrows heavily from the touring handbook of KISS and Alice Cooper, he definitely looked the part of rock's bogeyman.

Dressed in a black leather outfit right out of an S&M catalogue, with a strange looking shoulder piece of assorted blond hair on one tattooed arm -- Phyllis Diller must be missing some of her wigs -- he certainly didn't scare any of his besotted fans crowded closely together at the front of the stage.

In fact, whenever Manson knelt down in front of them, which was often, they responded with outstretched hands towards him, some of which ended often up on his crotch. (I'm even pretty sure that, at one point, one female audience member's face ended up there.)

Stirred Up

He also managed to stir the crowd up sufficiently before The Fight Song proclaiming: "This is for every teacher that told you, you were stupid! This is for every dad that said you wouldn't amount to anything at all! This is for every priest that said you were going to hell!"

The audience was mostly on its feet, with arms raised, throughout Manson's performance.

Pretty impressive given the emphasis on material from Holy Wood, which was released only last Tuesday.