Marilyn Manson Failed to Shock While the Smashing Pumpkins Kept Things Simple

The Smashing Pumpkins and Marilyn Manson
Bayfront Park Amphitheatre
Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Better Than: If you went to a Kiss/Cheap Trick co-headlining tour in 1995.

In their peak years, the Smashing Pumpkins and Marilyn Manson would have never toured together. Though they are both of the same genre, the two acts couldn’t be more different. It wasn't too difficult to pick out the Manson fans from the Pumpkins fans at Bayfront Park Amphitheatre. Manson's loyal army were a little more hardcore, dressed in black with no shortage of dark eyeshadow. Corgan's people were a little brighter, nodding politely along as Manson screamed into his knife-shaped microphone. 

But just like two old high school foes reuniting, Marilyn Manson and The Smashing Pumpkins, cultural and musical pioneers of the ’90s, seemed to have gotten chummy. And last night they had Bayfront Park Amphitheatre packed.

Marilyn Manson took the stage first at 8 p.m. before the sun had fully set. Dressed in black with his makeup looking as ghoulish and androgynous as ever, the local boy made good ripped through a retrospective of his career. Like an old tennis pro, Manson kept his movements to a minimum, never wasting a step he didn’t absolutely have to take. 

While you could hear better renditions of the Eurythmics' “Sweet Dreams” at a local karaoke bar, it was nonetheless impressive when Manson strapped on four-foot-high stilts to sing the song, looking like some type of goth daddy long legs. 

The familiar hits like “The Dope Show” and “The Beautiful People” made the crowd happy. Manson launched into “Personal Jesus" by screaming, “If you’re going to fuck Jesus, make it personal." But Manson's attempt to outrage by wiping his sweat with the American flag and cursing about Christianity — while joyfully nostalgic to his hardcore fans — felt played out. These were the same antics Manson used decades ago when he was starting out in South Florida with The Spooky Kids, and he's still milking them. One can see why Marilyn Manson faded into irrelevancy after 9/11. What pisses off the powers that be have changed and Manson hasn’t noticed. If he really wants to shock us again, he should become a Republican presidential candidate.

While Manson's stage was decorated with crucifixes and stained glass effigies of himself, the four members of the Smashing Pumpkins took the stage at around 9:30 p.m. with no flair save strips of white cloth hanging from the rafters. From the opening drumming of “Cherub Rock,” it was nice to see singer Billy Corgan joined by another original Pumpkins member in drummer Jimmy Chamberlin.

The duo tore through hits with the crowd agreeing loudly that the world is indeed a vampire. Corgan's acoustic version of “Tonight, Tonight” — stripped down without the flourishes of an orchestra — sounded so much dreamier and better than the studio version. But as the group delved into more obscure songs from its catalog, the crowd dove into to their Instagram feeds. When the audience jumped back to life with the opening chord of “Disarm,” Corgan called them out for it half-jokingly, “Those that were sitting down can’t stand up now just because it’s a song you know.”

Those that were updating statuses missed a heartfelt rendition of “Mayonaise” so good it took you in a time machine back to 1993. As someone who had his first Smashing Pumpkins albums on cassette, I would have liked to have heard more of those early cuts. The Pumpkins' debut album Gish was completely unrepresented, but Corgan let the crowd know, “I don’t do requests. I play what I want to play.”

He is, after all, from a decade when not every song was always at your disposal, just a click away. In the ‘90s, there was no Spotify. You heard what radio and MTV programmers played for you and you liked it, sonny.

Here’s hoping next year the Smashing Pumpkins and Marilyn Manson add Bone Thugs-N-Harmony and Mazzy Star to their ‘90s time capsule revival tour.

Marilyn Manson Setlist:
  • Deep Six
  • Disposable Teens
  • No Reflection
  • Third Day of a Seven Day Binge
  • Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)
  • Angel With the Scabbed Wings
  • Personal Jesus
  • The Dope Show
  • Rock Is Dead
  • Lunchbox
  • Antichrist Superstar
  • The Beautiful People
  • Coma White

The Smashing Pumpkins Setlist:
  • Cherub Rock
  • Bullet With Butterfly Wings
  • Tonight, Tonight
  • Ava Adore
  • Drum + Fife
  • One and All (We Are)
  • The Everlasting Gaze
  • Zero
  • The Crying Tree of Mercury
  • Mayonaise
  • Disarm
  • Landslide
  • 1979
  • Run2Me
  • Thru the Eyes of Ruby
  • Stand Inside Your Love
  • United States

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David Rolland is a freelance music writer for Miami New Times. His novels, The End of the Century and Yo-Yo, are available at many fine booksellers.
Contact: David Rolland