Oh my goth!

MArilyn Manson at the Hummingbird Centre, July 26. Tickets: $39.50-$47.50. Attendance: 3,000. Rating: NNN Rating: NNN

Hearing that Marilyn Manson was playing the Hummingbird Centre , of all places, I thought it might be worth checking out. After all, he had proven me wrong before I’d written him off five years ago as nothing more than a joke with bad fashion sense. I admit I’m both bemused by his development and impressed by his marketing savvy and staying power.

Now that he’s gone all Dada, drawing inspiration from pre-war cabaret and burlesque, surely the theatrics would be worth checking out. I fully expected to enjoy the visual display. And I did. But the whole Manson experience makes me question humankind’s capacity to think as individuals. And that scares me more than Manson’s shock tactics.

Many of his fans dress alike – you know, all black, bits of mesh, too much makeup, the goth thing – all the while staunchly proclaiming their disdain for conformity. Together they pump their fists in the air and shout obscenities along with a man whose whole shtick is a multitude of derivations.

Manson emerged looking like a doppelgänger of Alan Cumming as Saturninus in Julie Taymor’s Titus (the stage setting could’ve been designed by Taymor herself) and launched into the song This Is The New Shit off his latest, The Golden Age Of Grotesque, yet there’s nothing new-sounding about the industrial track.

Later, Manson’s dancing girls came out for mObscene, a tune strikingly similar to Faith No More’s Be Aggressive.

For the duration of the show, Manson and his band demonstrated a visual and musical extravaganza borrowed from the likes of Nine Inch Nails, Ministry, Skinny Puppy, Klaus Nomi, Raymond Watts, Joel Grey, Bob Fosse and others, aping sideshows and the aforementioned burlesque and cabaret.

Hey, I’m not necessarily averse to copycatting, and in some cases I think it an underrated art form. But you have to do something to make what you swipe your own. Manson needs a little work in that department.

The dancing zombie sluts, or whatever they were supposed to be, were pretty entertaining and a nice visual element, and there were times when the theatrics were striking.

Manson does have a commanding stage presence, but it’s not enough to hold my attention for over an hour. That requires a little substance.


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