Marilyn Manson’s more rock and less shock at Myrtle Beach gig

For Weekly SurgeJuly 15, 2013 

Sunday evening’s performance by the 44-year-old iconic shock-rocker Brian Warner (aka Marilyn Manson), and his ridiculously tight band, didn’t disappoint the large, but not quite sold-out crowd at the North Myrtle Beach House of Blues. From teenagers to geezers, some concertgoers were Manson virgins (guilty), and others long-time fans. We all hoped to see outrageous antics and lawsuit-worthy acts of indiscretion from the legendary gender-bending metal singer.

With the opening act, Picture Me Broken, starting 20-minutes late, Manson didn’t take the stage until around 9:30 p.m. The appreciative and patient crowd enjoyed the high production-value staging complete with a frenetic light show, sets, props, and Manson’s costuming. The visually disturbing semi-male ingénue wielded his cordless mike/dagger and seemed to play the role of demonic horror star to standards his fans expected. Manson’s name is derived from a combination of Marilyn Monroe and mass murderer Charles Manson.

Every generation since the 1950s has had a horror-genre rock act to worship much to the dismay of parents and pastors everywhere. First came Screamin’ Jay Hawkins (1957), Black Sabbath (1968), Alice Cooper (1971), KISS (1973), Gwar (1984), and then all hell broke loose in the 1990s with bands such as Slipknot, Insane Clown Posse and the grand dark master, and perhaps the most controversial of all; Marilyn Manson.

While all of these bands had noteworthy stage antics (Ozzy Osbourne did eat a bat, after all), they pale in comparison to Manson, who has been banned, at times, from performing in a dozen countries, and a handful of U.S. states. Manson has been the stuff of controversy since his first album, the Trent Reznor-produced 1994 classic “Portrait of an American Family,” was released and featured audio samples of actual suicides, and Charles Manson interview clips.

Marilyn Manson, who has now sold some 50-million records, and is touring in support of the 2012 “Born Villain” release, brought the horror-Satanic rock genre to new lows (or highs, depending on your perspective). The act made headlines in the 1990s for its blatant anti-Christian imagery and lyrical content, bible burning, self-mutilation, graphic sexual content, and all-out counter-culture Gothcentric music, which, fairly or unfairly, usually found its way to the center of teen shootings and the finger pointing that follows.

So, did Satan appear at the North Myrtle Beach House of Blues?

While this reviewer did not stay until the bitter end, other Manson followers at the show said that this was a toned-down, less “nasty” Manson, who kept his bodily fluids mostly to himself. The Manson family put on a highly theatrical stage show unlike any that I’d ever seen in the venue. The music was tight, loud and interesting, unlike some metal which stays in one key, and at one speed, and bores the shit of me in one minute. Industrial rock, as Manson’s music is generally described, is unlike thrash or speed metal from bands whose drummers can only play machine-gun riffs and whose guitarists seem like they hope to paid by the note.

The 1999 song “Dope Show” was among the Manson classics mixed with new material and other standards. I did not hear “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of These),” the cover of the Eurhythmics’ tune that helped make Marilyn Manson a rock star in 1995, but according to a source that was also at the show, it was played.

Picture Me Broken

The show’s (and Manson tour) support act, Picture Me Broken, presented an unusual mix of nu-metal and boy band, something they call “popcore.” The very young California-based four-piece rock act is fronted by female vocalist Layla Brooklyn Allman, daughter of southern blues legend Gregg Allman. She clearly inherited some of daddy’s genes, and belted out self-penned tunes with skill and confidence. Her band includes, fresh-faced 21-year-old shredder Jimmy Strimple, glam co-shredder Dante Phoenix, and drummer Shaun Foist. They ended the set with the Heart classic “Crazy on You,” and put a nice spin on the tune, making it their own.

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