In the 1990s Marilyn Manson and Rob Zombie were inciting controversy with imagery and lyrics heralding drugs and Satan. Mothers and churches nationwide continually treated them as the ideal scapegoat for anything terrible happening in the world. The bible belt wanted to come off and give them a relentless spanking. “Why are the gothic youths doing awful things? It’s gotta be that devil music!” As the world turns grimmer with actual events and lecherous legislation unfolding daily, does a musician still hold the same shock effect of yore? The second edition of this duo’s tour, “Twins of Evil: The Second Coming” is far less fueled by hate than a conservative may have you believe. Especially when compared with most religions. These musicians create a celebratory environment that had fans singing together—it was more cathartic than catastrophic. The common chants may be “motherfucker,” but it’s the most jovial motherfucker you’ll ever hear yelled in unison.
Splitting stage time, Marilyn Manson took the first slot at the Xfinity Center in Mansfield, MA on August 8. The band played incredibly tight, while in many tracks, Manson muttered indecipherable grunts in place of lyrics. Had he forgotten the words? Does it entirely matter? Low utterings and raspy howls still managed to punch at the right moments for climactic effect. His stage act is one of many tantrums from a seemingly bored man committing a series of pouts. For instance, he drops the mic to the ground after each song—a snide declaration that they are all triumphant. It proved problematic at times for the stage crew. As lights went black, confused headlamps scattered across the darkness to reset mics, stands and cords.
The show is impacted by bold imagery and symbolism. He stood atop a raised pulpit during “Say10” chanting the chorus, “You say god I say say ten,” with red lights glowing across his arched back, arms draping aver a big blue glowing cross. During “Kill4Me,” he wore a Columbine High School football jersey with his name on the back. The 1999 Columbine school shooting was heavily blamed on Manson by numerous media outlets—saying his music and goth culture caused the two young shooters to act violently. Nearly 20 years later, clinging to the infamy of this moment is another shock gimmick in the bag of tricks.
A thin curtain hid the stage fluttering in lights as fans cheered for Rob Zombie. While his imagery leans to the gloomy side of visuals as well, it’s a more kitschy revelry. A Rob Zombie show is a three-ring circus that fully encourages dancing. Zombie leads the grooves with bell-bottomed spandex that permits him to shimmy and slink across the stage with cool serpentine moves. He is a proper ringmaster, pointing to the prompters on rhythm, guiding the show in every moment.
Zombie doesn’t just perform from his stage separate from fans. During the 1995 White Zombie hit “More Human Than Human” he walked across the hands of the crowd in the massive amphitheater. During a guitar solo from John 5, he wandered deeper into the venue with a beam light, high-fiving fans in the back seats. He’s a charismatic man turning a large venue into a house party. And who else can make wearing a grandmothers doily look so cool? The stage is endlessly in motion with movie and music video clips. Lights flash and lyrics prompt chanting within the audience. Bass player Piggy D. routinely swapped out his tools. Along with John 5, their collection of famous monsters and ghoulish coffin guitars would make any collector drool over the custom attention to detail.
From his Nosferatu mic, Zombie yelled, “You wanna fuckin’ rock? Are you with me?” Cheers returned heavily but he pushed, “That is the dumbest fuckin’ Dunkin’ Donuts answer I’ve ever heard! I didn’t ask if you want a cruller, I asked if you wanna fuckin’ rock!” Cheers erupted and the 53 year old pounced from speaker to speaker revitalized. His spry energy is the best advertisement for vegan lifestyle I’ve ever seen. Nearing the end of his set, Manson returned to the stage for the twins of evil to duet on their newly released cover of the Beatles “Helter Skelter.” The boyish smirk on Manson’s face as he mimicked Zombie’s psychedelic dance style was a peak moment of the song. Shoulder to shoulder howling, the two looked ecstatic to share the tour and stage together.
For shock effect or not, it’s a hell of a show.