Shock rock legend Marilyn Manson has seen it all. He’s played sold out arenas and been featured in numerous festival headline slots. He’s sold over 50 million records, and amassed one of the most loyal and dedicated fan bases in music today. Most of all, he’s faced more controversy than most artists ever will. Arguably the most polarizing figure in popular culture during the 90’s, love him or hate him, there were very few around then that didn’t know who he was. These days Manson finds himself in more intimate settings, the protesters long gone and moved on to other targets, the controversy all but faded out completely, but the fans are still there.
Manson brought his current “Hey… Cruel World” tour to a sold out House of Blues in Boston, MA on Saturday night in support of his recently released album “Born Villain”. The energy level in the crowd was there from the start. A frenzy of fans pushed and shoved their way as close to the stage as they could get the second the curtain dropped and the opening notes of “Hey… Cruel World” rang out. Manson worked his way through a very short setlist mixed with hits and a few new songs during the span of a surprisingly brief set. Classics like “Rock Is Dead”, “mOBSCENE”, and “Disposable Teens” had the crowd riled up and moving the whole time. Manson also made room in his set for new songs off “Born Villian” such as “No Reflection” and “Slo-Mo-Tion”. Manson wrapped up the main set with “Antichrist Superstar” before coming out for a brief encore in which he played “The Beautiful People” and then called it a night.
While Manson was on stage, his performance was brilliant. He showed that he is still a master of his craft in the shock rock genre. But many did take issue with the strikingly short length of his setlist. Clocking in at just over an hour of playing time, it was more the type of set you’d expect at festival rather than a headline show.
My personal theory on why his sets have been running so short lately has to do with the current personnel in his band. With longtime drummer Ginger Fish leaving to join Rob Zombie, Manson is working with a new drummer for the first time since 1995. Also departing only a few years ago was guitarist Tim Skold who’s departure left bass guitarist Twiggy Ramirez with the only option of switching over to lead guitar and handing over bass duties to Fred Sablan. A quick look back at Manson setlists from his last visit to Boston in 2008 revealed that with those members backing him, he was playing over 20 songs a night, and mixing the selection very well with some lesser known songs. This begs the question of whether or not Sablan and drummer Jason Sutter are capable of handling live performances of some of the lesser known Marilyn Manson songs.
Opening the show were Los Angeles band and self proclaimed “Slut Metal” act, Butcher Babies. Their stage show was clearly influenced by Manson, and their music complete with hard hitting riffs and strong guttural vocals served up a great warm up act for Manson. Also seen was the ever rare opening act encore as Butcher Babies breezed through their set so quickly they were able to come back for another song.
Despite how long it lasted, Manson’s brief set, was still quite good. Throwing in confetti, fake snow, steam machines, several outfit changes and even performing from a top a makeshift podium complete with a dozed fake microphones, Manson showed off the top notch stage production and stage presence that he is so well known for. All in all the show was quite good while it lasted, but definitely could have used a handful of songs added in.