Monday, December 14, 2009

Marilyn Manson / esOterica @ The Academy, Sunday December 13th 2009

Marilyn Manson? Playing a gig on a Sunday? Isn’t there a law against stuff like that? Happily not. I was kind of expecting a plague of locusts to fill up the Academy though (hmmm I wonder how security would deal with that one eh?) or perhaps the good Lord would turn us all into pillars of salt or some other such biblical jiggery pokery. Clearly he had other things to do this evening though. Washing his beard perhaps? That must be a bugger to keep clean. Anyway, enough mild blasphemy for one night...arriving at the venue I was greeted by a queue so long it could be seen from space. After negotiating the throng and getting in, there was just enough time to grab a cheeky Strongbow (don’t you just love queuing at the bar…it really brings out the best in people doesn’t it?) before industrial metallers, esOterica took to the stage. Surprisingly melodic in places, recent single ‘Life is Lonely’ had some vaguely Middle Eastern / Afro rhythms in there and they made a decent enough noise to get the crowd going (despite one or two sound problems at the beginning of the set). The lead singer, a terribly well spoken chap (it’s always a little disconcerting hearing someone with a nice accent yell ‘motherfuckers’ at the crowd) did a lot of that 'put your hands in the air' kind of nonsense that makes the whole thing a little Butlins, but that’s probably just me being a miserable git. Well worth a listen if you fancy banging your head off.

Well, what can you say about Marilyn Manson that hasn’t already been said eh? From (allegedly) buying masks made of human skin (well, what would you do with all that money eh, once I’d got myself a nice motor and a posh crib I’d head straight down to World of Skin for some nice flesh coated knick knacks) through to collecting Nazi paraphernalia, from marrying a burlesque star (you would though wouldn’t you?) to beating up security guards, our Marilyn’s packed more controversy into his 40 short years than most. Yep, 40 years. Mr Manson turned 40 in January. Good grief. Over the years I’d count myself more as a casual fan and admirer rather than a hardcore Mansonite. I’ve always liked the way he plays up to his image and anyone who irritates those who’d censor anything more exciting than Last of the Summer Wine is alright in my book. I rather liked his covers of ‘80’s classics too, notably the unholy trinity of ‘Tainted Love’, ‘Personal Jesus’ and ‘Sweet Dreams (are made of this)’. Ooooh he did You Spin Me Round (like a record) too…can’t forget that one. But, I have to admit, I’d not kept up with his recent output. Just how would a 40 year old bloke in dodgy make up cut the mustard? Judging by some recent live reviews I’d read the signs weren’t that promising…

The set started with so much dry ice that we could’ve been watching Marilyn Monroe and we’d have been none the wiser. Mr M was also wearing some rather nifty gloves with frickin’ laser beams on the ends of the fingers that he used to permanently blind around 20% of the audience. I believe the opening track was called ‘Cruci-Fiction In Space’ and it pretty much set the tone for the rest of the show, growling, grinding industrial glam metal (some of the riffs bizarrely reminded me of Gary Glitter) with enough catchy bits for the faithful to stomp along to. That’s got to mess up your throat all that growling, no wonder he’s pissed off all the time. Strepsils, that’s the answer. He’ll be singing like Aled Jones in no time. After the first number the Birmingham crowd (a weird mix of the faithful and the curious) were praised for being better than his London audience. It seems that London is now “Birmingham’s bitch”. In that case I’d like London to pop up and clean my bathroom, they can get tea for me too while they’re here.

Onwards and upwards and with ‘Disposable Teens’, ‘Irresponsible Hate Anthem’ and ‘Dried Up Tied Up, Dead to the World’…the…er…hits kept coming. Like I said at the start I’m not a hardcore fan and I found some of it a little wearing, but there was enough there to keep me entertained which, for a non metal head, is a real result I guess. I also became intrigued with his hat changes (a new one for almost every song) and his hand towels. Throughout the night every time he used a towel to mop the sweat from his brow (or other parts of his anatomy) he’d lob it into the crowd like a BO stained Turin Shroud for the faithful to fight over. He must’ve got through around 100 of ‘em. Each time a new one appeared on stage courtesy of a Manson minion. Oddly (or then again, given the amount of dry ice on the stage, perhaps it was quite understandable) he seemed to keep puffing on an oxygen tank too (no doubt sponsored by O2...ho ho ho). Daydreaming for a moment I imagined how much fun it would be to replace this with a helium tank for a couple of numbers…although I can’t imagine that our Brian would get the joke somehow.

The latter part of the show was more my thing, starting with the dark, menacing ‘If I Was Your Vampire (replete with a microphone set into a carving knife blade…the perfect gift for Christmas…just £19.99 from Argos) and plenty of crawling about on the stage hacking at thin air. Then he prefaced the ‘Dope Show’ with a little speech on the evils of cocaine…or more specifically how we shouldn’t do HIS cocaine or he’d be forced to suck it out of our noses. Now there’s an image I’ll take with me to the grave. His cover of the Eurythmics classic ‘Sweet Dreams’ seemed to get the biggest cheer of the night, this was followed by the Patti Smith song ‘Rock n’Roll Nigga’ and (after the obligatory will he / won’t he do an encore) a thumping, ticker tape accompanied version of the ‘Beautiful People’ that ended the set on a sweaty high.

Appropriately enough (this being the festive season) it was pretty panto in places (notably the burning bible effect and the strange knife blade microphone) but it wasn’t as theatrical as I was expecting. Perhaps after the odd decade and a half he can’t be arsed with too much frippery and just wants to do the show then get back to “fucking lots of beautiful women”. Come on now girls, form an orderly queue. I’m sure there’s plenty to go round and at least he’s got his own oxygen tank if you feel a little faint...

Set List (I think…)

Cruci-Fiction In Space

Disposable Teens

Pretty as a Swastika

The Love Song

Irresponsible Hate Anthem

Four Rusted Horses


Dried Up, Tied Up, Dead to the World

Coma White / Coma Black

If I Was Your Vampire

The Birdy Song…no…that’s a joke…

The Dope Show

Rock is Dead

Sweet Dreams

Rock n’Roll Nigga

The Beautiful People


Russ L said...

"it wasn’t as theatrical as I was expecting"

This isn't a new thing, alas. I saw him at the Leeds festval in 2001, and was far more interested in what sort of amazing stage-show he'd have than I was in any of his music.

The sum total in the end was "him being on stilts for a song or two". Whoo-hoo.

The Baron said...

Stilts? I'd have loved to have seen some stilts. Hell, I'd have settled for some high heels at a push. I might be wrong here but I see Mr Manson as a kind of updated Alice Cooper, so I was expecting a few more 'ooohs' and 'ahhhs'...the odd snake, perhaps a fire breathing rabbit, a chorus line of naked nuns...nothing OTT.

Russ L said...

I think a fire breathing rabbit on stilts would be a perfectly reasonable Lowest Possible Expectation.

I'm really not sure what the point of Maz Manson is supposed to be, given that he doesn't bring the appropriate level of on-stage palava. Boo sucks to him.