JEORDIE WHITE | BASE TENDENCIES
"Come on, Montreal! It's f--cking hot, but we're not done yet. I broke my finger, but we're not done yet. Give me the middle finger. We're not done yet."
And with that, Marilyn Manson launched into his 1996 breakthrough hit "Beautiful People" before a sweat-soaked, deliriously devoted and sold-out Metropolis last night.
That the show would be a spectacle was neer in question. That it would rock so hard, however, was not a given. Manson passed his prime a couple of albums ago with the release of his cyber-glam, persona-changing album Mechanical Animals; and his audience and the hype surrounding him followed suit.
Sure, the Columbine High School shootings put him back in the spotlight, but not in a way that even he was comfortable with, nor in a way that helped his career.
Unless, of course, you're Manson and you use the antagonism and abuse as fodder for a new record. Last year's Holy Wood (In The Valley Of The Shadow Of Death) was reportedly inspired by his suffering at the hands of the media and his neighbors following the much-publicized high school shootings, to which his name was consistently associated.
Americana was a big fat target during last night's concert -- established as such from the get-go by the enormous U.S. flag (tainted, of course, with burn marks) that loomed as a backdrop. A huge cross, made from an extra-large rifle and two handguns, floated above the stage, to be used as some post-deadline prop, no doubt. His microphone stand: a rifle.
And while the American national anthem wasn't heard, rebellious rock anthems were ever present. Devil-horned salutes were the hand sign of choice (in close running with the middle finger), while Gothic was the theme of the attire.
If Manson is losing his edge, he wasn't showing it last night. Extravagantly ghoulish and rocking harder than most of the current metal and punk acts that pack in the summer tours, he proved that a little pomp, artifice and pretension go a long way.
And gimmicks don't hurt either. He came out on stilts early on -- a cool feat until he emerged singing a short while later, standing some 30 feet high in a loooong black dress. As the song ended, his dress shrunk, he lowered and shifted into the Eurythmics cover "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)".
"Some of them want to use you," the crowd sang along independently during a musical interlude. "Some of them want to be abused." It's the perfect Manson cover song, rooted between martyrdom and menace, with a little romantic longing thrown in. As the power-chords kicked in, the chorus rocked with appropriate authority.
Manson's been around long enough to know how to give a rock n'roll show. He has also passed his peak. Last night he could easily have shown us the wrinkles of a jaded rock star. Instead,he showed that it's still there -- the anger, the pain, the diva-esque hunger for the spotlight. He's not done yet.