Rocker Upstages Critics, Headliners
By Percy Ednalino, The Denver Post

It's called Ozzfest after founder Ozzy Osbourne, but it would have been more appropriate to dub Thursday's show at Mile High Stadium "Mansonfest" after controversial rocker Marilyn Manson.

On the first day of summer, Manson and his bandmates stole the show from Osbourne and the reunited original members of legendary metal band Black Sabbath.

Despite protests from a group led by youth pastor Jason Janz, Manson performed an unforgettable set during the 20-band extravaganza that included mega-hits such as "Dope Show," "Sweet Dreams" and his finale of "Beautiful People."

As "God Bless America" played and an image of a burned American flag was prominently displayed, Manson took the stage wearing a feathery headdress and a long black leather coat that covered a black corset.

The shock rocker quickly shed the headdress and coat. Two songs later, he finally addressed the crowd, speaking out against those who had protested the performance.

Manson, born Brian Warner, enticed the crowd into a defiant chant of "Fight! Fight! Fight!" before the appropriately titled "Fight Song."

He relied on typical stunts from his bag of tricks, including dressing up like the pope and walking the length of the stage while wearing stilts.

But this wasn't the androgynous Manson of a few years ago or the angry Manson from early in his career.

This was a savvy anti-establishment and pro-rebellion Manson who had the crowd hanging on his every word, even during the Bible reading he had promised.

Oh, and Sabbath showed that it still knows how to rock, too.

The group - Osbourne, Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler and Bill Ward - didn't storm the stage as in earlier shows.

Instead, the band plowed through classic hits including "War Pigs" with the confidence of a band that has already earned its place in history.

The group performed with several projection screens behind it that mainly showcased Osbourne's leering face.

A huge cross hung behind the drummer, Ward, while Butler was anything but a geezer as he played his bass.

Osbourne stalked the stage as if he didn't know he had turned 50 recently, while Iommi showed that he's still one of rock's premier guitar gods.

Other than Manson and Sabbath, the nine members of Slipknot were possibly the most anticipated act of the entire show. Or at least it seemed that way, judging by the orange jumpsuits worn by fans that mimicked those worn by the group.

Each performance went by with quick set changes between acts. A rotating main stage allowed one band to perform while another prepared behind it.

That made it easy for things to keep moving when bands such as Papa Roach, Linkin Park and Crazy Town played their quick sets.

Of the five bands that played the main stage before Slipknot, Manson and Sabbath, Linkin Park was the gem of the bunch. Twelve other bands split time on the two smaller stages.

The yawner of the bunch was Los Angeles-based Crazy Town. The group's sugary single "Butterfly" seemed out of place among the songs of anger, pain and rebellion that made up the play lists for every other act in the show.