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Concert review: Marilyn Manson keeps it (relatively) light at House of Blues

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Marilyn Manson, performing January 12 at House of Blues.
Photo: Christopher DeVargas

Four stars

Marilyn Manson January 12, House of Blues.

Having spent two and a half decades as one of history’s most notorious shock-rockers, Marilyn Manson is obviously no stranger to controversy. So when he posted a photo on his Instagram Thursday of his silhouette overlooking the grounds of the Route 91 Harvest Festival from his Mandalay Bay hotel room, his vantage point eerily similar to that of the shooter, it came as no huge surprise.

Would he use the deadliest massacre in modern U.S. history as fodder for more unabashedly offensive sh*t-stirring during his two-night run at House of Blues, or would the Pale Emperor dial things back, given his recent slew of not-so-great headlines? This is Vegas, after all, and Friday marked just his second gig after a month off—anything could happen. More importantly, would the 49-year-old musician, having recently shattered his leg on tour in September, be able to deliver to a sold-out audience?

Thankfully, Manson seemed hyper-aware of his setting, took the opposite approach and pandered to his crowd in “Sin City”—perhaps a cautionary move after he came under fire in November for pointing a fake gun at a crowd in San Bernadino.

In spite of his October injury—Manson wore a medical walking boot and also spent time in a wheelchair—the veteran goth-rocker seemed in high spirits and performed with passionate intensity for an hour and a half, bolstered by his band, now featuring Juan Alderete (formerly of The Mars Volta) in place of former bassist Twiggy Ramirez, whom Manson kicked out in 2017 in response to rape allegations.

Opening with “The Reflecting God” from 1996 breakout album Antichrist Superstar, Manson arrived onstage in an oversized trench coat and a motorized throne, which he cracked jokes about mid-show. “I don’t work dicks, it’s very confusing,” he said, referring to the wheelchair’s joystick.

Manson pulled from his lengthy 24-year discography, including “Deep Six” from his 2015 standout album The Pale Emperor, “Disposable Teens” from 2000’s Holy Wood and “Mobscene” from 2003’s The Golden Age of Grotesque.

His presentation was bolstered by a series of increasingly interesting wardrobe changes, including a mesh-and-leather onesie and a giant feathered coat (a possible reference to his Tim and Eric character, The Darkman). But it was his theatrical performance during Eurythmics cover “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)” that raised the bar from good to great, as Manson, dressed in a hospital gown, writhed and gyrated on a gurney, flanked by two male nurses.

Even as Manson approaches 50, his vocals remain a high point, his mix of throaty growls and raspy screams sounding near-perfect, especially during encore inclusion “The Nobodies.” Manson closed the show with “The Beautiful People,” but not before instructing his band to stop playing so he could draw attention to the woman in the crowd who he said had her “tits out.” During the song’s final moments, the woman jumped onstage, her bare chest exposed as she did the splits and twerked while Manson and his band wrapped up the set. It might not have been his doing, but it was a shocking finale nonetheless— and an appropriate end to the provocateur's night in Las Vegas.

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Leslie Ventura is a staff writer at Las Vegas Weekly and Industry Weekly. She’s picked the brains of rock stars ...

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