In today’s increasingly media-saturated world, does a gangly, leather-pant clad 39-year-old still have the power to shock anyone?
Judging by the sold-out crowd who stretched a block-and-a-half around the Queen Elizabeth Theatre last Sunday night for the self-dubbed Anti-Christ Superstar’s Rape of the World tour, a lot of people wanted to find out.
Despite a long delay, anticipation rose as four sets of lit candelabras filled the stage and shadowy figures darted behind a red curtain. During blistering opener If I Was Your Vampire, Marilyn Manson crawled toward the crowd’s outstretched hands, clutching a knife-shaped microphone. The cathartic momentum continued in an early assault that throbbed with the industrial crunch of Rock Is Dead and Irresponsible Hate Anthem.
Joined again by original bassist Twiggy Ramirez, the show offered no big surprises, but delivered a satisfying set focused on the heavier side of Manson’s work. Blessed with the limbs of a living puppet, Manson’s jiggling contortions further animated a constantly changing set. During Heart-Shaped Glasses, he paused at a dinner table across from a mannequin before ripping off its head, serenading the skull as the body walked offstage. Later, flanked by fascist-style banners, the singer preached from his podium and burned a bible — actions once shocking, now almost standard.
Crowd favourite Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This) began in blackness, with Manson scanning the crowd with a head-mounted flashlight as he crowed “everybody’s looking for someone.” Another cover, of Patti Smith’s Rock And Rock N*gger (featured on Manson’s Smells Like Children) was similarly well received. The set ended with a blistering encore of Beautiful People.
When the lights came on, judging by the energy streaming into the night, despite a bag of tricks that’s become old (dope) hat, the Anti-Christ Superstar still has his followers.