It's been over two decades since Marilyn Manson started his reign as the most feared rocker in suburban homes across America. Manson isn't the same terrifying figure for parents he was when Portrait of an American Family came out in 1994, but his presence still commands more attention than nearly any other musician out there.
As he proved at the Observatory in Santa Ana on Tuesday night, no matter how old (and sometimes disinterested) Manson gets, there's simply not a replacement for him. In his '90s and early '00s heyday, there were plenty of other similar artists for his fans to enjoy. In 2015, that's no longer the case, but his fans are still willing to pack a venue to the point of discomfort in order to see the icon.
Whether they were still wearing the same tall black boots and Manson t-shirts/patches they bought at Hot Topic in 2002 or had re-upped at a concert since, the crowd was almost entirely gothed out from the age of 15 to 50. While a good portion of the audience continued to wear the amount of leather and makeup you'd expect at a Manson show, there were also plenty of fans who'd clearly not let their love for the industrial legend slow down their transition into adulthood (and career), as their plain black tees suggested they still work 40 hours per week when they're not listening to Mechanical Animals in their car.
Manson took the stage after blaring Rick Ross' "The Devil is a Lie" through the venue's speakers before opening the set with "Deep Six" off of this year's The Pale Emperor. Despite the Pope-like applause and cheers upon Manson's initial appearance on the stage, much of the crowd was unfamiliar with the track.
That was alright though, because Manson explained to the crowd that he wasn't "fucking around" before launching directly into "Disposable Teens" and "mOBSCENE" with only a brief intro and a kiss from his longtime bassist/best friend, Twiggy Ramirez between the songs.
Much like any solid Manson show, the singer switched his brass knuckles microphone for one with a large knife on the end of it for 2012's "No Reflection." The performer then used his third costume change of the night to add a black smoking jacket on to his black cut-off shirt for an even newer tune in "Cupid Carries a Gun."
When Manson switched to his third microphone of the night (this one with a bright strip of lights attached to it) for his version of "Sweet Dreams (are Made of This)," it was already obvious that some things would never change about his live show. Marilyn Manson will never be among the cleanest-sounding performances you'll ever hear, but it'll be unmistakably Marilyn Manson. You probably won't learn any of his songs you don't already know the words to, but you'll get costumes, banter, props, and bodily fluid for days.
With the set nearing the hour mark, Manson took everyone back with "Angel with the Scabbed Wings" and "Cruci-Fiction in Space" before taking a brief break for Twiggy Ramirez to lead a "We hate love, we love hate" chant with the crowd as an intro to "Irresponsible Hate Anthem" (complete with Manson donning his slightly deformed Mickey Mouse ears).
The artist added to his face paint with a tattered white jacket to begin "The Dope Show" with a monologue about his drug counselor telling him he needs drugs every five minutes before revealing that his drug counselor was actually just himself (just one of many quick and self-indulgent pieces of one-sided conversation that were both humanizing and entertaining over the course of the night). He then closed out the initial set with "Rock is Dead" and an extended version of "Lunchbox" in which Manson took a break to tell an audience member "Later, I'm gonna fuck (the fan's significant other) while she's wearing your hat" and then declared himself "Straight outta condoms, Manson with attitude."
Following a brief pause, Manson came back wearing a blazer, dress shirt, and tie while carrying a burning Bible to perform "Antichrist Superstar. The entire band then left the stage once again before returning for "The Beautiful People" (with Manson in Nazi-esque apparel), and then yet another break before the final song of the night, "Coma White" to end the evening on a bit of a slower note after about 90 minutes of in-your-face rock.
More than the overall goth/Hot Topic look of much of the crowd, the most alarming trend in the audience was the significant amount of goatees, horned earrings on dudes, and a few super '90s hair styles. Music is cyclical, but there are some things that should never come back. Oh, and as great as some other Manson tunes are, "The Beautiful People" is still one of the best angry rock songs you can see live.
Cupid Carries a Gun
Sweet Dreams (are Made of This)
Angel with the Scabbed Wings
Cruci-Fiction in Space
Irresponsible Hate Anthem
The Dope Show
Rock is Dead
The Beautiful People