After having put aside a long-standing feud that resulted in their joining forces on this summer’s the End Times co-headlining trek, 90’s alt-rock heroes Marilyn Manson and the Smashing Pumpkins’ Billy Corgan have been playing up their similarities mutual respect. In a May press conference to promote the tour, which kicked off this week in Concord, Calif., Corgan said, “We understand each other in a way very few people understand us in the world.”
That maybe, but when the two rolled into Irvine, Calif. for night two of the tour it was very clear that for whatever understanding and similarities they might have they approach performing in completely different ways. Manson is the consummate showman, a disciple of Alice Cooper who brings his own performance art sensibilities to the stage, turning each song into a mini theater piece, utilizing props like the stilts he stood on as he sang his cover of the Eurythmics’ “Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This),” the pulpit he preached from during “Antichrist Superstar” and the giant knife mike he sang “No Reflection” into.
As with any theater performance its only as good as its material and cast and both were very much up to the task tonight, as Manson fed off a frenzied hometown crowd. “Hey mother fuckers this is our hometown, it’s good to see you” he said before “Disposable Teens.” He referenced the hometown again before the next song, “Mobscene,” for which he donned a top hat and coat. He claimed the coat cost him a blow job. “I had to give a blow job to get this coat,” he said, pointing out the bit was to intro the song. “This is such a cliché leading up to the ‘Mobscene.’ ”
The intros, the props and the stage design all added to the flavor of the hour-plus performance, but it was the fury and passion of the songs that stood out during this rock star turn.
There were no props and minimal stage design, just some white flags that changed colors depending on the lights on stage for the Pumpkins when they came out a little after 9:30. If Manson is the showman, Corgan is the musician, almost literally letting the songs do the talking as the only time he spoke was to say there was a “ton” of music to play and the talking slowed that down.
The crowd trickled back in during the opening “Cherub Rock” and even into the following “Bullet With Butterfly Wings,” leaving the energy lacking slightly, but by “Ava Adore,” as audience and band were on the same page, the Pumpkins turned into a powerful machine. With original drummer Jimmy Chamberlin propelling them, the group was flawless, delivering songs like “Zero” and “Mayonaise” with precision and vigor that took everyone in the building back to 1995.
The Pumpkins’ many lineups have been dissected and discussed countless times, but there is no denying this incarnation is an absolute powerhouse, as evidenced by the extended “The Everlasting Gaze” and the smoldering finale of “United States” with Corgan’s guitar hero turn on “The Star Spangled Banner.”
Whereas Manson played one speed exceptionally well, the Pumpkins showed off all aspects of their musical repertoire, going psychedelic on “Thru The Eyes Of Ruby,” with a Chamberlin drum solo thrown in the song, bringing in a slight dance beat on “Run2Me” and even acoustic on both “Disarm” and “Landslide.” The night ended with a full force “Geek U.S.A.,” a song as frenzied as anything Manson did.
When the Pumpkins are at their most rocking there are some musical similarities between the two co-headliners. But thankfully for the fans each band very much has its own style. And the contrasting styles played together over four hours made for a thoroughly entertaining and complete concert, both musically and production wise.
Marilyn Manson Set List:
“Third Day Of A Seven Day Binge”
“Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This)”
“Angel With The Scabbed Wings”
“Rock Is Dead”
“The Dope Show”
“The Beautiful People”
Smashing Pumpkins Set List:
“Bullet With Butterfly Wings”
“Drum + Fife”
“One And All (We Are)”
“The Everlasting Gaze”
“The Crying Tree Of Mercury”
“Thru The Eyes Of Ruby”
“Stand Inside Your Love”