Concert Review: Marilyn Manson @ Ippodromo Del Gallopo (Milano)

For quite a while Marilyn Manson’s rock has been ‘Deader Than Dead‘ to many critics and even fans out there but with his latest album ‘Born Villain‘ and recent live performances, the Ohio born shock-rocker seems to have made a full turn back on the right track.

Returning for a fourth time in Milan, a ground of angry Christian protestations against him and legal drama in the past Marilyn Manson delivered a show of the highest rock-star standards and exceptional technique. Fused with pure rock’n’roll energy, his identifiable industrialized raw power and of course, his ever notorious theatrics full on, Marilyn Manson seem to have made a turn towards the pure essence of the MM sound. Manson himself, as well as his sidekick Twiggy Ramirez and the rest of the band appeared in top shape, last Wednesday on a night that closely escaped a summer thunderstorm only to raided by blood-thirsty mosquitos.

The evening started with dark clouds and heavy drops of rain hovering right above the San Siro horse-track where the stage was set and around 4,000 MM fans and look-alikes had already started gathering. Thankfully, the gods of metal worked their last-minute wonder, the clouds dispersed and the sky was adorned with a beautiful double rainbow, minutes before the sun set and Esoterica, the support band, took to the stage. The London based band performed a rather powerful yet melodic 40-minute set of arena rock, warming up the Italian audience for what was yet to come.

The anticipation and the flocks of Lombardian mosquitos with a rather Karpathian appetite really made the wait longer than the crowd could take. But perhaps the night had to set for good before full darkness would embrace the setting and welcome the ‘villain’ prince in all his glory. At around 22.15, the theme from Dario Argento’s ‘Suspiria’ started playing and soon after the black curtain dropped to reveal the band kicking the show with ‘Hey cruel world’, moving dynamically to ‘Disposable teens’ and then ‘Love song’ both from 2000’s album ‘Holy Wood’. Next was ‘No reflection’ from his new album during which Mr. Manson proudly used his –real after all- knife microphone to shred an American flag someone threw from the audience. Right next was the crowd pleasing ‘mOBSCENE’ during which he sported a sensual pink boa, while a mysterious woman in full burlesque attire (apparently his girlfriend photographer Lindsay Usich), was sitting on the side of the stage filming the whole thing.

Though lately he seemed to have toned down the imagery in favour of his music, the constant change of costumes and make-up between songs, even spraying his hair in front of his audience and the use several props -from masks to guns to podiums to fake snow- Marilyn Manson proved once again that he is all about the show. The ‘Dope Show’ that is, which was one of the staples of that night’s performance, leading straight to ‘Rock is dead’ from ‘Mechanical animals’ and then his classic cover of Depeche Mode’s ‘Personal Jesus’. Not a moment of boredom or doubt during a show that keept the audience on a constant adrenalin induced delirium, while Mr Manson cared to entertained the Italians even more, with jokes about Heineken and Pabst Blue-Ribbon beer in a fake southern accent. He then grabbed his guitar for a surprisingly powerful and crystal sounding version of ‘Pistol whipped’. It’s quite hard to pick out the highlight of the evening, though the ‘Coma black/Coma White’ during which he appeared as a dark version of the Thin White Duke in a haze of snow or volcanic ash, was by far the night’s most emotional moment, leading to the violent climax of ‘Irresponsible hate anthem’ and the cover of Eurythmics’  ‘Sweet dreams’ that really swept the audience. “Antichrist superstar” came as an honest confession of Marilyn Manson’s genuine star-quality while ‘The beautiful people’ left the audience (and mosquitos) thirsty for more.

The lights turned on while his cover on Joni Mitchell’s “You are so vein” from his new album played as a joke to his fans –or maybe himself. If the “bedroom is the poor man’s opera”, the stage is definitely Marilyn Manson’s natural habitat. Sweet dreams.