It’s been twenty years since Marilyn Manson last headlined in Wales on his notable Antichrist Superstar tour and coincidently in the same venue – a leisure centre in the middle of Newport. It may not scream rock ’n roll from the outside as grandma’s perform aerobic’s but it’s sold out and a motley assort of fans queue around the building in anticipation.
What seems like routine if you’ve seen him elsewhere throughout the years – Manson’s support is a terrible choice. We’re greeted by a DJ who spends thirty minutes playing thirty second samples of nu-metal era tracks to ‘warm up’ the crowd. For a brief moment it felt like being at your local metal clubnight wishing you were home instead.
Manson appears to be having quite the bad run of headlines of late with his recent accident involving a giant firearm prop and recent firing of longtime bandmate Twiggy – but somehow he’s stayed headstrong and adamant to continue touring.
Opening with Revelation #12, the first track off recently released and highly praised Heaven Upside Down, the star makes quite the entrance strapped to a standing wheelchair emerging through a wall of smoke.
With his movement limited his vocals and theatrics are put to the test. Raspy, it take a few songs to warm up before we hit recent single Kill4Me. We lose count of the times he manages to say the word ‘Newport’ and ‘Wales’ (Waaayuuhls) before trying to encourage a “kill” chant that doesn’t quite go to plan. “Turn off your catholic for one second” he pleads to a crowd shy to join in, which incidentally sums up the atmosphere amongst the floor. Manson in Newport is an incredibly rare thing and it brings out the fans who probably grew up with him in their teens, who had him influence their outlook and who have come out for the rare occasion for the spectacle – even if unfamiliar with the last few albums. It can be frustrating at times to see a flat crowd when the performer is captivating but the realisation the crowd are grown up and not necessary here to ‘tear it up’ but here to simply witness the man himself and take in the surroundings is understandable.
Despite the accident earlier in the year that caused Manson to break his leg he still battles on. Almost like a play his leg features through the set. Two doctors wait on stage and ‘consult’ with him during various costume changes, which at one point sees him stir around on a medical table like a deranged patient. He flirts with various band members and avoids any cliche shock-horror efforts, which we’re thankful of and would of felt outdated, instead the band focus on the entertainment.
The set is a surprisingly balanced mix and sees the crowd roar louder and louder as the night moves on. Sweet Dreams, Great Big White World next to Say10 and We Know Where You Fucking Live – everyone from front to back is seduced by Manson. The band somewhat blur into the various backdrop changes and pull faces like over-enthusiastic cartoon characters that somewhat undermine Manson’s sadistic act but that’s all put to one side when The Beautiful People emerges with Manson toying with the guitarist slapping the strings into that unforgettable intro riff. He ends on The Nobodies, a track that apparently hasn’t seen the day of light since 2007, and is broken down half way through into an ‘acoustic’ melody.
It’s an abrupt ending. Perhaps ditching Irresponsible Hate Anthem off the night hindered what could of been a quality performance. The theatrics have been on form, the band members slightly awry but the inclusion of his broken leg into the performance was to be admired. He may not be the rock star your parent’s are afraid of anymore but his music still reigns strong and relevant.
Marilyn MansonNewport Centre - 8th December, 2017
Photographer: Nadine Ballantyne - www.nadineballantyne.com