'Dope Show' For The Ears
By Dan Aquilante , The New York Post

January 31, 2008 -- While Marilyn Manson has ditched most of the props for musical chops on his revamped concert production, the devilish rocker kept the crowd's attention with a pummeling musical assault and a freak 'em attitude.

During his two-hour production at the Hammerstein Ballroom on Tuesday, the pale male reprised his greatest hits instead of leaning on his recent release "Eat Me, Drink Me."

Nothing could have pleased the fans more than hearing the sinister Manson version of "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)," wherein all his vocal emphasis was put on the chorus lines "Some of them want to abuse you, some of them want to be abused." Few songs could better describe the give and take between Manson and his fans.

He was less successful with another cover, Patti Smith's "Rock 'n' Roll N - - - - r," which was performed with a vocal monotone that relied on rhythm instead of melody.

Yet beat is important to this band.

A major part of the renewed fire in the Manson family is the return of estranged bassist and songwriting collaborator Twiggy Ramirez. You might expect rust on his bass strings from a seven-year absence, but Twiggy's bottom beat - especially on "The Dope Show" and later "Beautiful People" - sounded as if there were no gap in his tenure.

The fans, who were older and more feminine than most would guess, churned to the set for the old and the few new tunes. To help everyone remember that it was a Manson show, during the song "Heart Shaped Glasses" Mr. Marilyn plucked the head off a female assistant onstage so he was able to sing to her noggin while her body wiggled in place. The headless hostess walked off the stage at the close of the tune. Can't tell you how he (or she) did it, but it was a good trick.

Other eye-popping antics included a Bible that burst into flames as Manson thumped it, stroboscopic lighting to help induce seizures and a wonderful use of confetti that made the cavernous Hammer seem like the inside of a snow globe.

Manson can still shock visually, but now older and wiser, he's pressing on the blade of music to make his deepest cuts these days.