the loud bassoon concert scene

Marilyn Manson @ Aragon Ballroom, Chicago, USA
17 October 2003

Absinthe: I've seen Marilyn three times before, but this was your first experience with the androgyne/antichrist/cabaret singer. You seemed pretty pleased with the performance, no?

La Fée: I was thrilled … surprisingly (to me, at least), the show turned out to be my favorite of the year. I was VERY skeptical going in, as my familliarity with Marilyn Manson was shallow at best, and frankly I expected it to be phony. But right from the beginning, I was hooked. I had no idea his songs were so tuneful.

Absinthe: Yeah, Manson's band can crank out a catchy tune quite frequently. This show focused mostly on this type of song. The more "serious" (and I do use the term loosely) side of Manson has been pushed aside on the latest album and tour. This is both good and bad. It gave him a chance to have more fun with the show and get a little silly with the 30s German cabaret/Dada theme. This persona was much different than the menancing, deadly serious Manson from the Holy Wood tour, which was a direct contrast to the glam/half-human Manson of the Mechanical Animals tour. He's really tearing pages out of David Bowie's book when it comes to changing himself around on every disc.

The Holy Wood show was really more about the music. It was simply designed to rip your head off, and it succeeded grandly. Longer numbers like "Coma Black," "Valentine's Day," and "The Reflecting God" were all punishingly performed, while none of these were played at the show we saw (well actually the last minute of "Reflecting God" was played as an instrumental outro to "Sweet Dreams," but that doesnt really count).

While I enjoyed both tours, I have to say that I liked the semi-serious Manson better. The new show, while good, was more of a toned-down spectacle.

La Fée: Perhaps that accounts for the crowd, who, amazingly enough, seemed to be entirely junior high and high-school aged. No shortage of sub-jailbait goth chicks, that's for sure. Too bad we were like twice the average age. Once again I question whether we've become those creepy older dudes we used to see at shows back in the day.

Absinthe: I dunno. Some sixteen year old girls asked my to buy them beer at a Placebo show, so I couldn't have looked that creepy. I mean, you have to convey a certain level of approachability for little girls to trust you with an important task like buying them beer …

La Fée: Did you buy them the beer?

Absinthe: Are you a cop? Keep in mind, legally you have to tell me if you are. I have that right.

La Fée: I'm not a cop, I'm a vigilante, like my father before me (Charles Bronson) and his father before him (Batman). But I'm only interested in taking down bad landlords and anyone in Human Resources. As far as I'm concerned, underage drinking is a gift, not a crime.

Absinthe: Good enough. Yes, I bought them the beer. Though I'm really not sure why.

La Fée: Well, I won't push you on it, but I hope the evening ended with these two charming lassies utterly hammered and pleasuring each other in front of your video camera … something I wouldn't put past Marilyn Manson. The man is brilliantly sick.

Absinthe: No, nothing Manson-like occurred with the sixteen year olds. I basically bought them beer and then left them to their own devices. Though it certainly would have been quite amusing to shove a microphone in their asses, as Manson did to his dancers on stage. Well, it was a fake, plastic ass, but still amusing.

I think the show was good. I liked the 30s Dada theme, but I wish the music reflected the image a little more closely. It was definitely better than when I saw him at Ozzfest back on the Antichrist Superstar tour (they were AWFUL and barely even listenable), but not as good as the Holy Wood tour. I also miss bassist/songwriter Twiggy Ramirez (now in A Perfect Circle), though Tim Skold (ex-KMFDM) is an adequate replacement. While he lacks Ramirez's songwriting skills, he makes up for it with his programming and production skills. This, of course, didn't make a difference live, where Skold adequately pounded out the basslines.

I do wonder why this show was your favorite of our recent metal bender?

La Fée: I loved the Vegas-ness of it all … dirty nurse/cheerleaders, snare-drum-pounding dwarves, Marilyn on stilts, neon signs, and more swearing than at my family Thanksgiving dinners. It was like darkworld Disneyland. Marilyn Manson embodies every taboo we're not supposed to acknowledge, much less indulge in. What struck me was that he offers this cartoonish outlet for society's darkest shadow … so whether the kids in the audience were aware of it or not, this was a really healthy way to channel their angst. As much as the guy is villified, I genuinely think he's doing society a favor. Quite unexpectedly, I was -inspired- by this show. And as I mentioned, the songs were terrific.

Absinthe: I agree fully. I think Manson is a very smart cookie. Like he says in one of his lyrics, "The most I can learn, is from records that you burn." He is probably one of the best role models for the youth of today out there. That's really not even too much of an exaggeration.

La Fée: Hail Satan.

NEXT: Heavy Metal Bender Pt. 3: King Diamond

Review by La Fée & Dr. Martin Absinthe