Carnival of the absurd

Marilyn Manson at the Orpheum Theatre, January 26, 2008
By VICTORIA WELCH  |  January 29, 2008
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WE HAPPY FEW: Manson might not be playing arenas, but his will-to-shock is undiminished.

The days when Marilyn Manson and his traveling circus of shock schlock could fill arenas may have passed — his “Rape the World” tour didn’t pack the Orpheum last Saturday — but the man formerly known as Brian Warner still commands a fevered cult of fist-pumping fans. At the Orpheum, he reveled in the swarming adulation of a crowd who hung on his every word, followed his every move, and threw themselves into his carnal carnival of the absurd with abandon. A Marilyn Manson show promises to push the envelope as far as possible and then just a little farther, with moves that might seem farcical in the absence of a rapturous crowd delighted to watch their hero set fire to a Bible.

The pale-faced rocker emerged with arms raised amid the blood-red back-lit mist. Swathed in black from hair to toe, he grabbed a microphone designed to look like a scythe and plunged into an ear-blowing rendition of “Cruci-Fiction in Space.” He writhed, he moaned, he unleashed windmill slasher moves with his faux scythe. And he basked in the adulation.

At his best, Manson plays up his role as a crazed ringleader presiding over organized mayhem that, on this tour, included a shapely blonde-mannequin prop that arrived in time for “Heart-Shaped Glasses.” The rocker groped beneath the plastic lass’s skirt, prompting thoughts of his girlfriend, video vixen Evan Rachel Wood. And then he proceeded to decapitate the girl toy. When the jumping, pumping crowd shouted along to the riotous “mObscene” — “BANG! We want it! BANG BANG BANG!” — Manson licked his lips appreciatively and tipped a top hat to help fuel the fire. “The world told us sin’s not good, but we know it’s great,” he growled as he twitched and flailed. “War-time full-frontal drugs, sex-tank armor plate!” Exactly.

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