Buoyed with enthusiasm having seen Manson live twice before and fuelled by half a bottle of gin pre-show I dive into the pit at the front of the stage to witness the master showman at work.
Manson clearly relishes playing live having done his time as Trent Reznor’s warm up act for many years – it is heartening to see him graduate to the big league and with material worthy of such a stage. It was therefore imperative for me to see him at this relatively small South London venue and a chance to get up front and stare directly into the eyes of the Antichrist. However, the choice of venue slightly backfired on the band this time, such is the enormity of their live sound now, John 5’s screaming guitar often sounded distorted and Manson’s voice was lost at times, struggling to be heard clearly through the PA system. This did little to dampen spirits however as Manson surprisingly wheeled out some nuggets from the oft overlooked album ‘Mechanical Animals’ ? ‘Great Big White World’ and ‘Rock Is Dead’ sounding as good as ever even with Twiggy no longer adding to the mayhem.
Opening up with their offering to the movie ‘Matrix Reloaded’ – ‘This is the New Shit’ got the crowd singing along immediately followed by the awesome ‘Disposable Teens’ which some felt was too commercial on its initial release but certainly blows you away live. The song that stole the show tonight though was the current single ‘mOBSCENE’ ? two frauhleins in Germanic Military outfits circa 1939 adding the backing vocals requesting the crowd to ‘be obscene, be, be obscene, be obscene baby and not heard’. This obscenity was not actually apparent until later in the evening though when one of the scantily clad ladies on the tom tom drums bikini top slid down giving everyone a clear view of everything her Mother warned her not to reveal on a first date! However, it seemed the crowd was in doubt whether this was an intentional unveiling or was a pure accident such is Manson’s intent to always fully entertain! One wonders whether it was not him loosening the elastic in the poor girl’s dressing room before the show.
No other surprises tonight except the exceptional new material from the current album ‘Golden Age of Grotesque’, the title track of which slithers into your conscience and has you humming and tapping your foot all the way home. Other live favourites ‘Sweet Dreams’ and ‘The Fight Song’ were again here and brutally performed, the show frantically finishing with the usual show stopper ‘Beautiful People’. With a lean to pre war European burlesque, London has not seen this much rallying since Edward Mosley’s Blackshirts. One wonders if it is not he who is referred with the lyric ‘this is a black collar song, put in your middle finger and sing along, use your fist and not your mouth’.
Committed to Ozzfest again this year one can only envy those who will see this band during the Summer on the stadium or arena stage where they now clearly belong. For me, although the sound was never perfect this time around, it is an always an honour to see one of the true performers live and unleashed again?.if you haven’t seen this band live yet why not? Get a ticket today and don’t sell it for love or money?with a little luck there may be some more loosened elastic in the show too!