Rob Zombie and Marilyn Manson celebrated Halloween early Tuesday night at the Civic Center.
Both singers and their bands turned in lean, mean sets brimming with crazy stage antics, even crazier sets and props, and wall-to-wall hits that left the crowd more than satisfied.
Although the crowd was the smallest on the tour, according to Zombie, both bands used this to their advantage, cutting loose and having fun with the songs and the crowd.
Zombie closed out the night, which was a wise decision — his parade of animatronics, extras in suits, and horror and science fiction movie clips made for a visually stunning closer and enhanced the party vibe of the whole evening. The band charged into “Jesus Frankenstein” to start, with Zombie in full makeup hanging from a skeleton-shaped mic stand, while a ghost-like apparition stalked the stage behind him. Five minutes into the set, the entire arena smelled like a burnt match due to Zombie’s ever-present pyrotechnics.
Other highlights included the “Alien”-esque creature that bopped around the stage during “Meet the Creeper,” and yet another monster that popped up in “More Human Than Human,” one of two songs Zombie played from his first band, White Zombie.
The visuals were stunning, but without a good performance behind it there’d be nothing. Thankfully, the band more than delivered in this department — former Manson players John 5 and Ginger Fish deserve special mention, tearing up the stage on guitar and bass, respectively. Fish’s drum solo after the creepy “Mars Needs Women” was a high point — as his playing built to a frenetic finish, film clips from “The Shining” and other horror films flashed in unison to the beat, creating dramatic tension.
John 5, meanwhile, restrained himself for most of the night, but finally laid into a fearsome solo during the White Zombie classic “Thunder Kiss ’65” late in the set as Zombie himself walked the floor and mingled with fans.
Manson and band hit the stage just after 8 and proceeded to slam the still-growing crowd with material from all their albums, kicking things off with new rager “Hey, Cruel World ...” from this year’s “Born Villain.” With former bassist Twiggy Ramirez back in the lineup, this time on guitar, the band was in particularly muscular form, thrashing the crowd into a frenzy with “Disposable Teens” and the chant-along “The Love Song.”
During “mOBSCENE,” screens flashed obscene words and phrases at random, while Manson conducted the crowd through the song’s scorching chorus — the effect was kind of hilarious, but in a good way. During the next song, “The Dope Show,” a giant light-up banner reading “DRUGS” was lowered to the stage, as Manson did a speak-and-spell on the song’s bridge.
The group hit its stride mid-set with a punishing rendition of “Rock is Dead,” into the band’s grooving cover of Depeche Mode’s “Personal Jesus.” The Eurythmics’ “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)” gave Manson some of his best moments to shine vocally, taking him through a range of growls, grunts and full-bore screaming. Things hit a fever pitch as stagehands dragged out the pulpit for “Antichrist Superstar,” and Manson obliged the crowd by dancing all over the set. After a brief break, the band returned for “The Beautiful People” to end on a high note.
DJ Starscream, AKA Sid Wilson of Slipknot (filling in for J-Devil, Jonathan Davis of Korn), opened the show promptly at 7 with a cacophonous set of cut-up beats and riffs that seemed to inspire more confused staring than dancing from this crowd. As the set progressed, the performance became more theatrical, with disguised stagehands pointing prop guns at the audience.
Starscream’s mix of techno beats, along with recognizable snatches of songs such as “99 Luftballons,” helped to set an ominous mood for the main event.