If any musicianâ€™s return to performing live can be described as triumphant, it is definitely Marilyn Mansonâ€™s. His â€œHey Cruel World Tour,â€ as well as the independent release of his newest album, Born Villain, prove him to be formidable and a force to be reckoned with in the music industry. Not having toured or put out an album since 2009, Mansonâ€™s ability to fill larger venues may have decreased, but his ability to perform and entertain is still strong as ever. He made this very clear last Wednesday at the Wellmont Theatre in Montclair, NJ, the stop on his tour the day after Born Villain was released to the world. His performance that night included the best of his music, both old and new, as well as an incredible live show filled with surprises.
Opening with â€œHey Cruel World,â€ Born Villainâ€™s first track, Manson took command of the stage and the audience and firmly asserted the fact that his age has nothing to do with his stage presence theatrics. Manson never stopped moving; he strutted around the stage from one side to the other, taking care to lean over the side of the stage and sing directly to his audience, as if to let them know that he truly appreciated their dedication and patience during his three-year absence. Although they started out large to begin with, his actions onstage kept getting progressively larger and more dramatic as the set went on. His set included multiple costume changes, a mic stand shaped like an extremely realistic butcher knife, guitarist Twiggy sporting a dress all night, and even some fake blood.
Mansonâ€™s ability to capture an audienceâ€™s attention so tightly that he practically chokes it out has not withered a bit with his age and absence; the crowd at the Wellmont was captivated by Mansonâ€™s immense stage presence and took every opportunity to interact with him when they could. They unbegrudgingly offered up their cell phones and cameras for him to grab, rub all over the front of his pants, and then nonchalantly throw them back into the audience in no particular direction at no particular owner. There were crowdsurfers and multiple pits, and during most songs (most notably â€œThe Dope Showâ€), the voices of fans singing along were almost as audible as Mansonâ€™s himself.
The setlist was a decent mix of new and old; it included past hits like â€œDisposable Teensâ€ and â€œmOBSCENEâ€ as well as newer material like â€œPistol Whippedâ€ and the newest single, â€œNo Reflection.â€ While the older songs tended to have the more intense reactions from the crowd- they started to get rowdy during â€œDisposable Teens, â€œ which was the second song of the set- the newer material allowed Manson a chance to show the world, and his audience, that he is still alive and kicking and willing to make music that challenges questions social norms, just as he has in the past. He also played two of his most popular covers of pop songs- Personal Jesus, a Depeche Mode cover, as well as Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This), a Eurythmics cover, both of which the crowd went nuts for.
The raw passion that he has for his music is matched by the passion he has for his fans and supporters; more than once during his set he stopped to thank â€œall you motherfuckers for coming out tonightâ€ and for supporting him. His love for performing and being onstage was made clear through his antics, as his interactions with other bands members showed that he was having fun and enjoying himself. At one point, he started a good-natured contest with long-time guitarist Twiggy Ramirez to see which one of them could say â€œfuck youâ€ to the other in the most interesting way, during which the audience cheered and clapped constantly. Marilyn Mansonâ€™s theatrics are incredible to watch, just as his playfulness on stage is.
Manson closed the night with a bang; during the encore he played â€œAntichrist Superstarâ€ and closed his show with â€œThe Beautiful People,â€ both of which are huge hits that delighted long-time and newer fans alike. However, the long-time fans were the recipients of an incredible treat during the encore; Manson brought back the â€œAntichrist Superstarâ€ podium, which some fans thought they were never going to see again. The arrival of the podium onto the stage elicited screams of delight from most of the crowd, which only inspired Manson to end his show by performing the last two songs even more intensely than he had the rest of the set. Hanging over the top of the podium like a puppet, Manson sang his heart out, as did his fans, who all but bowed down and worshipped him atop the podium adorned with the lightning bolt logo of Antichrist Superstar.
Marilyn Manson put on a truly amazing performance on Wednesday and I consider attending the show a privilege. It is clear that he has grown, both musically and mentally, and this growth has been nothing but beneficial for his music and his live shows. To see Marilyn Manson play such an intense show in such a small theatre was an incredible experience, and he certainly proved himself worthy of many, many more years on the stage.