Eventim Apollo, London
November 19, 2015
“If you go down to the woods today, you’re gonna get fucked in the ass by a bear,” chimes Marilyn Manson between songs at London’s Hammersmith Apollo as he offers his interpretation of the classic nursery rhyme. It’s the first date of the UK leg of his Hell Not Hallelujah world tour, and such fiendishness is always expected from the goth rock titan. On the back of January’s noticeably mature-sounding record ‘The Pale Emperor’, though, tonight’s performance offers glimpses of a new era of Manson as well as reflecting on the monstrous peaks of his heyday.
‘Deep Six’ and ‘Cupid Carries A Gun’ are the only inclusions from the latest record, but they mark an important chapter in tonight’s whistle-stop tour through Manson’s back catalogue. The latter’s jangling blues chords create an eerie, bewitching atmosphere of the American deep South – a more subtle aesthetic than the industrial drums and heavy metal distortion of much of the set’s gothic anthems.
Costume changes mark the different episodes of Manson’s performance tonight. He dons a bowler hat for ‘Disposable Teens’, looms above the crowd on stilts for ‘Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This)’, and in a climactic moment, perches atop a pedestal with a burning script in his hands in a beguiling rendition of ‘Antichrist Superstar’. Elsewhere, Manson stabs the air with a kitchen knife-mounted microphone during ‘mOBSCENE’, bullishly roaming the fog-laden stage amid spindly lasers and coloured strobes, before ash falls from the rafters for set closer ‘Coma White’. It’s not quite the intimidating facade that it once was, but this nostalgic cycle through the years still offers plenty of visual flair to go with the thundering melodies. And while the older Manson lacks the otherworldly vigour that his younger self did, his hoarse screeches sound better than ever.
Manson thrives now as an elder statesmen of ‘90s and early ‘00s counter-culture, rather than the headline-grabbing renegade “God of Fuck” he once proclaimed himself to be. But even with shock tactics taking the backseat, this Pale Emperor proves tonight that he’s still a hugely compelling performer.
Marilyn Manson played:
‘Cupid Carries A Gun’
‘Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This)’
‘Angel With The Scabbed Wings’
‘Irresponsible Hate Anthem’
‘The Dope Show’
‘The Beautiful People’