2015 has been many things so far but it seems it has ushered in the triumphant return of Marilyn Manson, who is currently on the road in support of his new album “The Pale Emperor.” The tour run has been deemed the “Hell Not Hallelujah Tour” and came at crucial time in the career of the great shock rocker. “The Pale Emperor” was released on January 15th and has widely been referred to as Manson’s best release in years with many critics going as far as saying that the album is his best disc to date. More important than the critics opinions are the fans who seem to be sharing the same thoughts about the quality of the album, not to mention the fact that the album hit 8th on the US Billboard 200, topped the Hard Rock album lists upon it’s release and this tour has been packing venues at every date so far.
What made the album so grand? A lot of things cane together at the right I think but the real answer was obvious at Manson’s show at the Sands Event Center, he has never been more focused on his career than he is now. Manson has maintained his “A-List” celebrity status over the years with numerous acting parts as well constant album releases but “The Pale Emperor” showed a return to form that has resulted in Marilyn Manson reclaiming his throne over the genre he created years ago. Having just played a show in Philadelphia a week or so back I was unsure how well the Sands Bethlehem Event Center would fill up but by 9PM the venue was packed to near capacity, an impressive statement of Manson’s large fan-base in the Pennsylvania market.
Promptly at 9:15 the house lights dimmed and a rendition of “Requiem” by Mozart began to echo through the venue speakers, an eerie start to the evening that built hype for the band’s arrival on stage about a minute later. One by one the lights flickered to life which casted larger than life shadows of the band and Manson as they walked across the stage to start the night. Manson strutted to the middle of the stage and the evening began as he hoisted a microphone stand over his head to toss it aside as he grabbed the microphone to ask the crowd “You want to know what Zeus said to Narcissus?,” these of course being the first few lyrics of “Deep Six” from “The Pale Emperor” A truly fitting song to start off Manson’s first ever show at the Sands Bethlehem Event Center.
By the time Manson hit the first refrain the stage had come to life with massive amounts of lighting production, Co2 and digital projection effects on the backdrop that all cued with certain moments of the song. The crowd was anxious to get as close as they could to Manson and much of the front row was lurched forward as they leaned over the barricade with their arms extended to get that extra few inches closer to the stage. Manson noticed their efforts and would often stare them down, motion at them and more as he walked commandingly across the stage.
Soon enough Manson rolled around on his knees as he sang a long time fan favorite, “mOBSCENE,” and as he did so he caused as much destruction as possible knocking over microphone stands and more. After each song Manson addressed crowd to some extent often switching microphones or having a slight outfit change to fit the song that was coming up.
There was everything from capes, fur coats and my personal favorite a microphone that was a butcher knife used to stab some instruments before tossing them into the crowd. At some point in the night Manson ended up getting cut on a broke beer bottle but the blood didn’t slow him down as he danced around with a LED microphone illuminating his face on “Sweet Dreams.” The changes in the night added an interesting surprise element to the performance because you never knew what Manson was going to pull out from backstage next.
Age certainly hasn’t slowed down Manson, if anything it has forced him to fine tune his performance and focus him on delivering the strongest show possible. His 16 song setlist spanned a lot of his career but was not surprisingly heavy on new material from “The Pale Emperor,” however fans had no reason to not be familiar with the album because all ticket sales for the show came with a digital copy of the album when it was released. The crowd was very much into “Killing Strangers” early in the night but the loudest and most chaotic moments of the night came on “This is The New Shit” and the “Irresponsible Hate Anthem.” There was a moment during “This is The New Shit” that the crowd got so loud you literally could not hear the performance, I’ve seen Manson before but I’ve never seen a crowd get that loud for that song.
From a critical stand point I’ve never seen Marilyn Manson put on a better show in recent years, having seen him on Mayhem Fest, his last solo tour, and his tour with Alice Cooper it is safe to say that Manson has truly made leaps and bounds with his live performance delivery. While he may have cut back on a lot of the onstage drama and props I think this has allowed him to focus more on the performance and his interaction with fans which was constant through out the evening. There is no doubt that Manson has matured over the years but he has never lost his edge, he’s just as sharp as ever and truly knows how to still push the boundaries musically. It goes without saying that he put on the best metal show the Sands Event Center has seen in the better part of a year and the Lehigh Valley metal scene is no doubt grateful for his stopping there on “Hell Not Hallelujah Tour.”
Manson had plenty of memorable other moments in the performance including the theft of a pink hat from a fan in the front row to wear during “The Dope Show”, opening act Unlocking The Truth performing “Beautiful People” with him and the dramatic finale of “Coma White” with a microphone that was quite like no other that night. The setlist from the Sands Event Center show is below for those who are curious about what Manson is doing on this tour :
Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)
Cupid Carries a Gun
Rock Is Dead
The Dope Show
Third Day of a Seven Day Binge
This Is the New Shit
The Mephistopheles of Los Angeles
The Beautiful People
Irresponsible Hate Anthem
To say that Marilyn Manson is back is an understatement and probably disingenuous, I don’t think Manson ever left but I also don’t think he’s ever been better. His career is long from over despite what some critics were saying prior the release of “The Pale Emperor,” and I think Manson has a lot more down the road in terms of music. 2015 is already off to a huge start for him and as this tour wraps up another one will begin leading up to the ever popular festival season that will have Manson playing at everything from Rock On The Range to Carolina Rebellion. The Emperor has certainly claimed his throne and I don’t think he is giving it up anytime soon, welcome back to the top Marilyn Manson you’ve worked hard for this one.