Marilyn Manson House of Blues May 13, 2012
See more Mother's Day Marilyn Manson photos in our slideshow.
"It's Mother's Day. Anybody here have my child, or is my child?" howled Marilyn Manson from the stage at the House of Blues Sunday, just as he and the band ended "Disposable Teens" in a flurry of fog and stomp. For a good number of fans in the crowd who responded with reverence, he is their father, if only because he gave them sight and identity so many years ago.
Manson hadn't been in the Bayou City in more than four years, making Sunday's sold-out show even more of an event for local Manson fanatics. He's touring behind this month's new Born Villain, an LP so lustful and tongue-in-cheek that it sounds like a 21st century retelling of David Bowie's Scary Monsters, albeit with his trademark snarl and sass.
The Manson family band is presently guitarist Twiggy Ramirez, now on his second album back in the fold after some time away from the group; Fred Sablan handles bass duties where Ramirez once stood, and drummer Jason Sutter is an old industry hand whose credits date back to the mid-'90s and who has a filthy wrist-crack. Manson and Ramirez are all that remain from the classic-carnival lineup of the original Manson band.
The band's 15-song set list was heavy on hits ("Dope Show," "Rock Is Dead"), plus two killer signature covers ("Personal Jesus," "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)"). The new Villain stuff is very strong -- "Slo-Mo-Tion" is a great Iggy Pop-style waltz.
I only wish that we could have gotten more of the "Lunchbox"/"Get Your Gunn" work from the Portrait of an American Family period last night. But maybe "Cake and Sodomy" would have hit too close to home here in 2012 for some.
The Antichrist Superstar material -- which closed the show -- speaks louder than it ever did now, 16 years away from its release. The notion of a cult of personality running the country doesn't seem too far-fetched anymore and the near-religious fanaticism of said cult is pretty blatant now.
I have been a Manson for more than half my life, and I still can't tell if he's a demented Elvis Presley, a tattooed Bono for aggro-assholes, the most vital rock artist of the '90s or a national treasure that belongs in the Smithsonian.
Hell, let's just go with all of those.
Personal Bias: I guess I didn't really shift into fanboy mode until the last five songs and the arc from the Antichrist days. Once the pulpit came out from that era, I lost my shit. It's always been this perfect camp-ridden fascist spectacle. But seeing it in 1996 or 1997 was downright unsettling, even in the middle of the freewheelin' Clinton years. Now, it's commonplace.
But What About the Openers?: Ah, the Pretty Reckless, featuring the rockin' side-boob of lead singer Taylor Momsen. There was a grown man in my corner of the crowd taking expert care to video every single shimmy and quake from the teddy-wearing blond with his cellphone.
The Crowd: I was having a conversation after the show that a good part of the Manson fan base is still very much sold on this false idea that Manson is some Gothic icon when in fact he never really was. But I suppose that if he has helped give someone an identity and a voice that they feel comfortable with, it can't be so bad. Manson's gig has always been to shine a light on people who needed a way out of the dark....and directly into another dark.
Overheard in the Crowd: "I wanna drink his babies," said a statuesque and buoyant-looking blond waiting in line to get a beer at the back bar at the HOB. I don't think she meant her date, either. Manson still makes the women quiver.
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Random Notebook Dump: Whatever you may think, a rock star of Manson's caliber is sadly an endangered species. No one else can sell himself better.
Marilyn Manson Set List: Which is pretty cool, since it has Manson's hat choices written out for each set of songs. "SOA" is supposed to mean "Stormtrooper of Death" for his SS-style cap, I believe.