Circa 2000, Marilyn Manson was the biggest, scariest, darkest, weirdest rock star on the face of the planet. He was the devil incarnate, the voice in a troubled child's head, the savior of the unsalvageable.
He's come a long way, we've all come a long way, and now it's 2013. The Antichrist Superstar has gotten a little older, and his concerts aren't plagued by rioting Catholics like they used to be. But last night, he still managed to flood the Fillmore Miami Beach with thousands of glam-goth superfans, both young and old.
Even if you were a hipster coming to celebrate old times, you broke out the black for this one.
We felt kind of like we had a unique perspective on the night. Even though this author had never seen Manson live before, we were kind of raised on it. Our dad has seen Manson, no lie, about four or five times. We were taught since middle school that this evil son of a bitch put on the best rock 'n' roll show of all time. Plus, we'd been dumped by our boyfriend less than 24 before curtain call. Standards for a spectacle were high.
A couple loud opening acts provided general head-banging noise as the general admission pit filled with pasty kids in corsets and bondage gear. It's strange to be in Miami and find not a single tan. Shit really got exciting when the giant curtain came down from the rafters. You knew the stage hands were hurrying to create whatever morbid fantasy awaited our feeble minds.
As the minutes ticked, the crowd got antsy, singing loudly to songs like "Enter Sandman" and "Purple Haze" on the house speakers. They chanted for "Manson, Manson," and at about 9:50 p.m., they got their sinister wish.
He hit the stage in black leather everything, with ultra-white skin and a black stripe across his face. He looked kind of like classic Trent Reznor, but that's kind of always been his thing, right? He went right into "Angel with the Scabbed Wings" as a great red double-cross glowed above him. His stage looked vaguely like a cemetery.
"Oh it feels so good to be back in Miami," he said, alluding to the fact that this was basically a home-coming (yes, south Florida spawned this beast). "Let's keep this city clean," he continued, screaming the title of the next song, "Disposable Teens."
He ran through a few more songs, every other jam coming with its own costume change. Throughout the night, he was an evil pimp face-fucking his guitarist Twiggy Ramirez, he was a disenchanted superstar (well, always), he looked like an evil clown. His microphone was a giant butcher's knife and he kept hacking away at the air around him.
He does the rock-star thing rather well, leaning in to sing to fans, touching their hands, mumbling between songs like he must be on so many drugs. At one point, he sang along to the Beatle's "Happiness is a Warm Gun," but changing the lyrics "I'm high as Hitler, I'm going down." We'd believe it.
He jammed through "Rock is Not Dead" and "Disassociative" and a big hit cover with "Personal Jesus." And he kept the verbal hits coming, talking about how you shouldn't go into the woods because you'll get raped, promising to fuck everyone in the audience later, something about a black woman - sometimes it was hard to tell.
But just as an aging queen must don her old face from time to time, everyone waited anxiously for the biggest hits. When "Sweet Dreams" came, he pulled himself out on his giant stilts. They were on his hands and his feet, and he looked like a menacing bug. At least, having watched the VHS copy of the Antichrist Superstar tour so extensively in my youth, I could not have been more excited to see the Nazi podium come out. It was also cool the way he ate the Bible pages, albeit with a bit more fatigue than that late-90s video footage.
Manson reappeared after his last costume change, egging the crowd on to cheer with his hands. He leaned into the microphone stand and addressed them.
"I tell you what. This is the last song of all the 163 god-damn shows." Suddenly, we understand why he seemed kind of tired. "This is where it starts and where it ends. I love you, you beautiful people."
There was so much smoke and confetti as he kicked it out with the most famous song of his career. He ended up giving the crowd one last jam with "Irresponsible Hate Anthem," to "finish this one off with a bang." And when it was finally all over and the house lights came on, the band and crew tore down the drum set, flinging every last drum head and drum stick into the crowd.
As we walked back to our car, we thought that perhaps Manson wasn't as shocking as he used to be, but that's kind of the impact he's had on the world. He opened us all up to more obscene ideas, and we still love him for it. Even if it doesn't feel like we sold our soul to the devil just being there, he still puts on one helluva rock'n'roll show, he's still good for giving sad kids something to smile about.
Marilyn Manson's Setlist
-"Angel with the Scabbed Wings"
-"Rock Is Not Dead"
-"This Is the New Shit"
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-"The Beautiful People"
-"Irresponsible Hate Anthem"