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Marilyn Manson and Rob Zombie electrify Barton Coliseum

Submitted by Jacob Ellerbee on November 7, 2012 – 10:39 pmOne Comment

Marilyn Manson and Rob Zombie, two bands that feature larger-than-life frontmen for which their bands are named, treated fans to a variety of special effects, bizarre costumes and fastidiously designed stage props during a joint concert at Barton Coliseum  Oct. 29.

The concert was coordinated as part of 100.3 The Edge’s annual Monster Ball. The two acts were scheduled to play at the Arkansas State Fairgrounds Oct. 6, but weather conditions forced the outdoor concert to be postponed. The rescheduled concert  was held indoors at Barton Coliseum, which has hosted a number of legendary acts in its 60-year history, including Elvis Presley, Metallica and the Jackson Five.

Shortly before 8 p.m., the lights in the Coliseum were switched off and the crowd erupted into a frantic scream — a culmination of  adulation and appreciation for Manson, who last performed in Arkansas in April 1997. Associated Press archives reveal his last concert in Arkansas was one of many protested by Christian groups and concerned parents. According to Billboard, the group was banned from performing in places like Salt Lake City (for destroying a Mormon Bible on stage), Richmond, Virginia (by way of petition) and even Seoul, South Korea (government decision) in the late 1990′s.

Manson displays a "does not equal" sign Oct. 29 at the Arkansas State Fairgrounds. Photo by Jacob Ellerbee.

As the crowd continued to greet the band with great adoration, the song “Suspiria,” a horror movie theme originally performed by Goblin, began playing as the curtain dropped to reveal the band on stage. Manson, who had his back to the crowd, stood on a rotating platform that slowly brought him to face the audience as smoke rose from the ground, creating a dramatic atmosphere. The band kicked into “Hey Cruel World,” a song from the band’s newest album, “Born Villain.”

Despite having a revolving group of members through the years, the band sounded tight as they performed their most popular tracks. Manson’s live vocals were heavier and more guttural than on his studio albums and as a result, a casual fan of Manson most likely would not have appreciated the temper-tantrum screaming vocals.

On the costume side of things Manson assumed several different roles, including dictator, drag queen and Catholic priest. For most of the set a “does not equal” sign hovered over the center of the stage; a large canvas backdrop was also interchanged periodically, several of which sported the front man’s face.

Manson gave a staggering performance that was fueled with passion and a love for the spotlight, as he treated concert-goers to a psychologically-thrilling experience. The avant-garde performance was compelling in that he made the audience think about social issues through unconventional visuals and lyrics.

But if Manson was all about the psychological thrill, Rob Zombie was about partying with the undead.

Rob Zombie displays his affinity for movies with an image of King Kong as his crew readies the stage. Photo by Jacob Ellerbee.

Zombie had several video screens, substantial pyrotechnics, life-sized animatronic robots and dancing zombies. The casual fan may not know that Rob Zombie’s drummer, Ginger Fish, and guitarist John 5 were both once in Marilyn Manson’s band. He began with a video that was projected on the stage’s backdrop that began flashing the words “ZOMBIE” in a subliminal manner as an ominous voice cheered the name in a fist-pumping rhythm. The members came on stage one by one and began playing a soft interlude that built to a crescendo as the band went right into “Jesus Frankenstein.”

In addition to tattered cowboy hats, each member sported skull-faced bandannas that covered their mouth and nose. Zombie had an over-sized mechanical claw that made him seem like part machine, part zombie and part outlaw. But soon the band ditched the outlaw look and revealed their heavily-painted faces. John 5 had a large “X” painted on his face, its vertex meeting between his eyes. Bassist Piggy D’s paint looked like dry tears of blood, and Ginger Fish had a large inverted cross that went down the bridge of his nose and across his mouth.

Rob Zombie was constantly moving and gyrating, refusing to stand in one spot as he gave a sinister vocal performance. Even between songs he moved around stage, keeping the crowd involved.   He worked the crowd over like the consummate showman that he has proven to be over the years, telling them early on, “if you’re holding an iPhone over your head, you don’t know how to party.”

The crowd appreciated the meticulous nature that went into designing the props and animatronic creatures, never leaving a detail to chance. His movie-directing background gave him an advantage on visual representation during the performance. He utilized larger-than-life robots, wandered the stage in a graveyard-type utility vehicle and never seemed to show signs of exhaustion. His biggest crowd pleasers of the night, “Living Dead Girl” and “Never Gonna Stop (The Red, Red Kroovy)” also sent the crowd into a frenzy as they danced and partied at the maestro’s command.

Marilyn Manson and Rob Zombie each know how to work the crowd and keep fans on the edge of their seats. In an era where many acts have lost their ability to surprise and keep an audience enthralled, these two acts created a sensory experience that will be remembered for years to come.

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