A trip to hell with Marilyn Manson ain't what it used to be...

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Marilyn Manson: London Docklands Arena

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Marilyn Manson: London Docklands Arena

Back in the day, Marilyn Manson was your parents’ worst nightmare. The prosthetically-enhanced, Church Of Satan member with the weird eyes and scarred torso used to scare the living shit out of mummy and daddy. A generation of rock kids, whose older siblings had long given up the rebellion game after Kurt had gone, became hooked on Manson’s deadly hit singles and his genius use of T-shirt slogans.

But the goalposts have shifted. Papa Roach, Limp Bizkit and Linkin Park have stolen Manson’s fans – after all, it’s a lot easier to walk down the high street of a small town wearing Adidas trainers than PVC heels and purple lipstick. Manson’s gothic, drug-addled aesthetic has been cleansed by Fred Durst, so maybe that explains why the Docklands Arena atmosphere is distinctly less than hellish tonight.

Despite the clouds of dry ice and Manson’s Christ-bufooning entrance, Brian Warner’s band really doesn’t feel dangerous anymore. Twelve-feet-high stilts and post-modern use of Nazi imagery aside, the majority of Manson’s set tonight is completely pedestrian – a hoary blend of laboured Tubeway Army riffs and glam rock choruses. It seems that somewhere between ‘The Beautiful People’ and the ill-fated ‘Mechanical Animals’, Manson shed his nasty, subversive streak and became more the clown prince of heavy rock.

But despite the awful PA tonight, Manson’s best songs – ‘The Beautiful People’, ‘Disposable Teens’ and ‘The Fight Song’ – still sound great. The best bit is when Manson dons his leather field marshall hat, stands

astride a podium emblazoned with a crucifix made out of guns and sings ‘The Love Song’. If we’re to believe that this chapter of his career is to be one of the last, then, this song is a perfect full-stop.

The sweating, tattooed fuck-up in ripped-up tights and leather corset screaming at us “do you love your guns? God? Government?” – particularly in the wake of George Dubyah’s election – looks like the most righteous man on the planet right now. Despite the fact that he’s become as musically subversive as Slade, Marilyn Manson is still a force of truth in a world of watered-down, sportswear-sponsered rock music.

Who’d have thought that the Antichrist Superstar would end up as one of the good guys?

Andy Capper