With only three Canadian dates and just a handful remaining on the entire tour, the Rob Zombie and Marilyn Manson show set for London’s Budweiser Gardens on Wednesday (Aug. 14) was already a special show before it even began. The shock rock duo have been touring as The Twins of Evil for quite a while and the surprisingly, the show felt more like a grand rock show than it did a classic horror double feature.
Manson played a 70 minute set heavy on popular tracks from his hit albums Antichrist Superstar and Mechanical Animals, but aside from burning a bible during the song Antichrist Superstar, there was no real horror, evil or shock to be found – it actually felt more like an Iggy Pop show, including that moment where Manson pulled his pants down and paraded around the stage with his bare ass exposed for nearly an entire song.
For his credit, Manson is more of an artist than a musician. His music and stage show are a bit like macabre paintings in the spirit of Ken Currie’s Head Of The Idealist or Theodore Gericault’s Anatomical Pieces. It is art brought to life by a master.
Manson’s show also featured multiple costume changes (including four costume changes just for the microphone itself) and a bit of rockstar angst where he would kick, toss or just plain drop the microphone, mic stand or anything else that was in his hands. There appeared to be two flashlight wielding roadies on standby to locate and reset the mics before the next time he needed them. The overall vibe gave the impression he was either a great actor or he was pissed drunk.
One of the great moments of the show was when Manson moved to the pit in front of the stage and started interacting with the fans – even allowing a young boy to sing Beautiful People with him. His control and influence over the audience is astounding – and maybe that’s where the real horror comes into play. The audience sang along most of the show, including chants like “Kill, kill, kill for me” from one of his latest singles Kill4Me.
As a fan of the radio hits, it was an interesting show that borrowed more from David Bowie and Iggy Pop than it did scaring or shocking the audience – but none of it mattered. Manson has nothing to prove to the non-faithful.
If there was a friendly competition for audience reactions, Rob Zombie was the clear winner tonight. Right from the moments the lights went out, it felt electric. Zombie and his band came busting out onto the stage blaring Dead City Radio and the New Gods of Supertown. As the songs progressed, it was clear Rob Zombie was in the mood for a good time. He spent much of his time moving across the stage and jumping off one of three giant platforms at the front of the stage. His energy was on fire as he plowed his way through three massive hits right at the start of the show – Superbeast, Living Dead Girl and More Human Than Human.
The later, of course, was one of the songs from his days with White Zombie, as was Electric Head, Part 2: The Ecstasy and Thunder Kiss ’65. But it didn’t matter if it was something from White Zombie, one of the Rob Zombie solo albums or covers like Blitzkrieg Bop or Helter Skelter. Zombie’s songs all work well together. There’s a unique sound that binds them all.
The audience seemed to love Well, Everybody’s Fucking in a U.F.O. and Pussy Liquor, giving the show more of a soft-core porn vibe than anything one would expect from The Twins of Evil.
This was a much different show from the horror laced lighting and pyro when I last saw Zombie in Vancouver years ago. That show was darkly lit, felt heavier and a bit eviler than this one. But I love this newer Zombie much more. He has more energy, passion and sincerely seems to love what he does – and the fans love it just as much as he does. The flashy video screens still gave the show it’s b-horror film vibe and the bouncing boobs on the screen in Pussy Liquor had everyone cheering, much like they used to, but Zombie and his band (John 5 on guitar, Piggy D. on bass and Ginger Fish on drums) really took this show to a new level. John 5’s guitar solo, especially, was stellar and playfully included a few Led Zeppelin riffs for fun. He shredded his way through an exciting solo surrounded by video screens filled with spinning pentagrams and a massive 666 at the front of the stage – all while Zombie made his way around the arena with a flashlight shining on the crowd.
Aside from the controversy TMZ tried to stir from an incident involving a female fan that grabbed Zombie during this part of the show (he retaliated by reaching out and grabbing her hair), this was a great night – with a good dose of hard rock, famous rockers and big giant arena shows.
Toronto/Las Vegas rockers Palaye Royale opened the show.
Photos by Dan Savoie