Concert Review: Alice Cooper and Marilyn Manson

June 30, 2013 — Leave a comment

Friday, June 21, 2013 – Mohegan Sun Arena

Mohegan Sun is a casino/resort in Connecticut a couple of hours’ drive away from New York City that just happens to have a 10,000 seat arena attached to it. As my friend (the same one who had joined me for my very first show) and I chowed down on buffet plates piled high with all kinds of goodness, it felt like we were on vacation.

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A waitress noticed me wearing my black jeans and Cannibal Corpse shirt and asked, “Here for the show?”

“What gave it away?” was my response.

The bright, vibrant and crowded Casino of the Earth lifted our spirits as we joined the crowd outside the arena entrance.

This shock-rock twin bill was dubbed “The Masters of Madness Tour”, but in my mind it should have been called, “The Teacher and the Student: School’s Out.” After several shows consisting largely of no-frills, no-nonsense extreme metal acts, it would be a welcome change to see these two gentlemen who weren’t afraid to put on a show as well.

Alice Cooper has been around basically forever, and you could easily tell who his fans were: the graying hippies and th emiddle-aged couples, some of whom donned mascara in his trademark style. The Marilyn Manson fans were even easier to pick out, because the stereotypical image of the Manson fan is the tight black corset, fishnet stockings, and shit-kicking boots. There were a few of those, but for the most part they were dressed like us: black jeans and band shirts.

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MARILYN MANSON:

  1. Angel With the Scabbed Wings
  2. Disposable Teens
  3. No Reflection
  4. The Dope Show
  5. Rock Is Dead
  6. Coma White
  7. Personal Jesus
  8. Prelude (The Family Trip)
  9. mOBSCENE
  10. Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)
  11. This Is the New Shit
  12. Antichrist Superstar
  13. The Beautiful People

I never thought I’d be seeing Marilyn Manson live, but as the lights dimmed and he thundered onto the stage with the classic “Angel With the Scabbed Wings” from “Antichrist Superstar,” I was proud to be witnessing his resurgence. As he pranced around with his knife microphone and his makeup, I recall thinking to myself that this was the guy who was still associated with the Columbine massacre, who gave one of the best music-related interviews I’d ever seen on the O’Reilly Factor, and who is generally speaking one of the most intelligent and articulate musicians working in metal today.

I had heard much about Manson’s stage show and his love of props and different outfits, like his idol David Bowie. He re-emerged in a white-fur, Hollywood movie-star outfit for “The Dope Show,” careened around on massive stilts for “Sweet Dreams, ” and broad-brimmed hat and cloak for “Coma White.”  In his preparation for “Personal Jesus,” he played a montage of famous historical speeches while he emoted applying his makeup backstage before appearing for a show. He stared into a movie-star mirror surrounded by bright lights, as though preparing to meet the crowd even though we could see him. Personally, I thought he was trying to make the case that people attached the title of “Personal Jesus” to various celebrities and stars, much to the conflicted disbelief of the celebrity itself (it’s a constant theme of his). But maybe I’m over-philosophizing.

He wheeled out a monstrous podium and stood at its head for the penultimate “Antichrist Superstar,” a grinding, thunderous political hit for him from the album of the same name–seemingly tailor-made for large arena shout-alongs (or political rallies). As the song ended and he led the pit in raised fists and yells, it definitely looked like an eerie election rally for his namesake character. At this point, he just had the whole crowd eating out of his hand for “The Beautiful People,” during which he shot so much confetti into the air that it piled up on the floor.

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The student having primed the audience, it was time for the teacher to instruct the class on how it was done: the man who showed up to his Hall of Fame induction ceremony with a live boa constrictor around his neck, who gave a hilarious monologue in Wayne’s World about Milwaukee, and who actually had people convinced for a time that he was executing himself onstage…for multiple nights in a row.

ALICE COOPER:

  1. Hello Hooray
  2. House of Fire
  3. No More Mr. Nice Guy
  4. Billion Dollar Babies
  5. I’ll Bite Your Face Off
  6. Is It My Body
  7. Under My Wheels
  8. Hey Stoopid
  9. Poison
  10. Dirty Diamonds
  11. Welcome to My Nightmare
  12. Go to Hell
  13. Feed My Frankenstein
  14. Ballad of Dwight Fry
  15. Killer
  16. I Love the Dead
  17. School’s Out
  18. I’m Eighteen

“I can’t really scare people anymore, but people still want to see the Alice Cooper show,” he’s told many interviewers. “If you’re gonna say ‘Welcome to My Nightmare,’ give it to em!”

The Alice Cooper show is much more of a full-band experience, sporting a trio of talented guitarists and double-bass drumming, which had its usual effect of pumping life into the sometimes-fuzzy old studio recordings. As Alice Cooper strolled out in his pinstriped suit, top hat and pimp cane under a shower of white sparks, I could see why people continued to see him after all these years. He simply never took a break from his joyous “Every day is Halloween!” attitude towards life. He front-loaded his set with early hits like “No More Mr. Nice Guy” and “Billion Dollar Babies,” and the audience joined in well enough. During “Dirty Diamonds,” he left to stage to let everyone on his band take a star turn, including a magnificent drum solo in the metal tradition.

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Theatrical shock-rockers like Alice frequently get a raw deal from those who believe the music takes backseat to just “putting on a show,” but here the music was definitely deserving of the spectacle. The guy runs around onstage popping balloons with a sword! He pilots a massive Frankenstein figure and walks around onstage with it! He pretends to whip his band into shape during “Go to Hell!” And yes, there was that famous guillotine scene that he’s perfected over all these years.

During “School’s Out,” by which time I had screamed myself hoarse, he threw in an interlude of “Another Brick In The Wall” (a sister track!). And for the finale, he just had to have a duet–Marilyn Manson joined him for an anthemic “I’m Eighteen.” Appropriately enough before taking their bows, Manson knelt down and kissed his feet.

aa mm onstage

 

“I love how both of these guys just don’t give a shit about how they come off to people,” my friend enthused as the screaming audience poured out of the arena onto the casino floor (probably to the shock of many gamblers). “Marilyn Manson’s just up there shaking his ass just being his own person, and Alice Cooper is still just killing it even though he’s like a grandpa!”

“Schooooool’s out for summer!” I yelled as we all made our exit.

Directly in front of me, a little girl wearing Alice Cooper makeup whirled around, smiled at me, and finished, “Schooooool’s out for ever!”

You really can’t make this stuff up.

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