Bad Adventures number twelve - Sony Blockbuster Pavilion, Philadelphia/Camden, 5/12/97. --Our last night.

...and this one started out so well, too. The wait outside was pleasant (this warm weather is such a treat!), police prowl cars cruising us every few minutes but giving no trouble, family showing up in droves, venue staff good-natured. (I had a long conversation with a Christian lady staffer whose son had recommended she ask for the night off to spare her the offense, but she was interested and curious enough to ask us what was really going on. Didn't approve of Manson ripping up a Bible but didn't approve of religious picketers and show bannings, either..nice person really. We converted each other a little. =)
Funny moment as we lined up prior to door and were instructed via bullhorn what was to happen next: some edgy spook called out "Which door will that be?" and was answered in a patient Joisey accent as thick as peanut butter, "Tha door in fronna ya face." Bullhorn guy got cheers =).

They also had a supremely sensible pit entry system I'd love to see adopted elsewhere: people with floor tix were separated out from seated folk as soon as we passed the turnstiles and routed to a separate door where we got to stand at our - can you believe it?! - leisure for a good fifteen minutes or so, able to buy things, get to the restroom, etc., while the stands filled. Only when all 200 of the floor ticket holders were assembled did they open our door and let us in. Brilliant! No problem keeping our spots in line, since the barricade line essentially reassembled itself in order upon reaching the second checkpoint; no contesting with seat folk in the charge to the floor; time inside to actually take advantage of the merchandise stands and the facilities, a chance we usually sacrifice; eminently well-thought out all around. Great big chocolate-frosted kudos to the Sony Blockbuster Pavilion for that one.

As I say, there were only 200 floor tickets, and the pit was correspondingly teeny - seven rows, tops, between the stage and the railed off-first seats. (Raw deal for that first row, I'd guess - hope they could see over the pit.) Looked good for a lack of surfers though. Steve from Raspi cruised the barricade giving hugs and taking people's names and addresses (!!) - what a sweetie. I guess they like us. =) Rasputina's set was remarkably well received - I think this was the best audience of all for them, with lots of applause/cheers and no abuse whatever. The guards'faces were an absolute study during Raspi's set as they watched this mob of kids, which they'd probably been told were raving deathmetal fanatics, stand with the polite attentiveness of conservatory students and applaud a classical trio. It was too hilarious to watch these huge guys progress from wary surprise to utter bafflement to arm-swinging boredom - they had nothing to do while Rasputina played except catch people smoking. Wonderful.
So far so good. We bade our new friends (and their big violins =) a regretful farewell and sang along with Bowie.

And all went without a hitch...smoke and colored lights and the Twiggy and Zim Fan Clubs howling happily as their respective darlings took the stage...and then that white strobe. (When had they begun using a strobe instead of a spot? - but that's what it was, catching that broken-puppet pose that was the first thing we saw.) But as if charged by the crowd's roar Manson straightened and rammed both fists straight up - contact!- opened them wide, and came, step by regal step, down his cracked and spotlit staircase, and I was looking up at him and Twiggy and the beautiful BladeRunner Church, that exact tableau, for the last time.

They roared straight into the set at a crackling pace, and we got a few surfers, nothing too bad. "Angel" and "Get Your Gunn" and "Cake and Sodomy" and "Dried Up Tied" were scorchers; "Tourniquet" beautiful as ever. All was well.
But then he darted off right to get suited up for "Kinderfeld" - as he appeared over Zim's head I saw him look over to Maxie's tech desk and tap his microphone headset. Must've gotten a go-ahead because he turned with no more ado and glided out over the stage, green and blue underlights coming up as he moved. He's gotten so smooth on the stilts and crutches that there's no hesitation, straight across in one flowing line like a skater. The crowd loved it. Then he reversed and did the same thing backward! (Showoff, I thought with all affection.) He had 'em in his hand. Crept back to center stage, faced around and began to sing -
No sound. We could hear the band but not his voice.

Oh fuck no. My heart dropped to the floor. All around me I heard or felt the front row recoil.
We knew the show was doomed. Manson could never tolerate a technical break like this; as soon as he realized what had happened he'd go volcanic and the show was over. Oh damn damn damn, not this song of all songs, not at our last show, not like this. Sick with dread we braced for the explosion...
--The realization raced through us so fast that he was only to the second line of the song by now and his expression said "something's wrong but what?" He after all could still hear himself through the mix going to the band's monitors, he couldn't yet tell the house speakers weren't getting the signal; but the whole barricade was visibly breaking down in shock and tears. Regina later told me - I was only watching Manson so didn't see - that she and Twig traded frantic pantomime messages and that only then did he keep an eye on Manson. Good thing he did or he might have been killed. Third line in, the realization hit Manson and he hurled the crutches off both arms like javelins - Twig just skittered clear as they shot past him - and stomped off stage rear, stilts and all.

The band played on for a minute or two, firing uncertain looks back and forth, then quit. I had despairing memories of the November leg of the tour, when the least little things, technical glitches we didn't even notice, were enough to send him storming offstage no matter how much or little of the set had been played. And he'd been so much better this time around, playing on through stuff that would have sent him into a rage before - shirts and projectiles hitting him, minor blips in the lighting cues - he'd gone straight through them all in the spring gigs, and we'd said to ourselves,
he's really learned self-control. But here we were again. Damn, of all songs "Kinderfeld" - the crucial and beautiful centerpiece of the set - why did it have to happen now?...
The crowd started to stir restlessly, griping, yelling, here and there a fuck-you-Manson. We on the rail were still as still. (Jeff commented ironically, "notice how everyone is making a racket except the first two rows, who've all been through this before?" Righty-right...) Was there any chance of more show? Were the lights going to come up any minute? What was ***happening***, for pete's sake?...

Then just as the fuck-you-Mansons were getting nasty, he whipped back onto the stage in three long strides, de-stilted, pissed as hell, and arching into a tight backbend shrieked "And the world spreads its legs for another fuckin' star - !" divebombing straight into "Little Horn." Elation!
He DID it! - he actually choked down his goddamned temper and made it back out here! Way to go, Reverend, sir! --Downright proud of him I was. =) We flung ourselves into the song, singing, giving all the support we could.

And by george it seemed to be working - he seemed to be spinning that bottled rage back into the set. "Apple of Sodom" went like a charm and "ACS" was hypercharged, Manson hurling himself back and forth as if rattled helplessly in an invisible grip. It hit me like a slap that the grip was ours, that our collective demand had literally overruled him. The ultimate expression of the "I am you"/"Antichrist Superstar is everyone" theme (as coyote had commented to me awhile before) - could it be made any clearer? I may seem to be controlling you, but you're just as much in control of me; the dictator is no more than the puppet of a greater force, and that force is you, by whose demand I appear here. But you still want to be followers too... Am I abusing my power? Are you? Who's pulling whose strings? A vivid revelation, and kicked home with such rage. Unforgettable.

Out to the speaker for his now familiar "It's been a long hard road to Philadelphia..." speech; someone yelled "No, you're in Jersey!" and I swear I saw the briefest flick of panic cross his face, something like shit, I've finally gotten so wiped out that I can't even tell where I am.. But he carried on (again=). "This is the last show of this leg of our tour..."(gonna miss you thought I )
"...so for the last time sing with me: shoot shoot shoot motherfucker--"
And we did. ( I wish he hadn't said "for the last time"..even though I already had.) As the chorus stormed on and on Manson swung his mikestand overhead and nailed it into the front monitor. And did it again, and again, throwing his whole weight into it, the wood audibly splintering, all his teeth showing and blind fury glazing his eyes. He spun around and the mikestand flew at Zim, who adroitly dodged. Everything he'd bottled to come back onstage after "Kinderfeld" boiled over; he charged the drum kit like a bull and began ripping it apart, Ginger still bashing away, forced to bail as parts of his set scattered under the onslaught. A chilling and awesome display it was.

Well, that pretty much guaranteed no encores, and we knew as much though the crowd was still agitating for them. We hung on the rail till security started to dislodge people and headed for the aftershow, though I'd've bet you a cookie no Mansons would appear. (Though we did get to meet Zepp's mom, who was there as a Mother's Day guest of honor. They look so much alike you'd never doubt they were mother and son.) --I'd've lost said cookie, though, as we got quick visits from Pogo and Ginger (who was efficiently checking up on details for the European flight - "Zimmy, you have anything that needs to be shipped to the studio?" - as though moonlighting on the road crew). --Zim was his ever-sweet self, spending at least an hour with a book of cool photo-collages of the band a fan had brought and making off with a Boba Fett Star Wars figurine as well ("I collect 'em too, but I can't keep up with Twiggy," he sighed). The offered Boba was gleefully snatched, admired and pocketed, leaving Admiral Ackbar behind for Twig. Cute. =) We said our bye-for-nows to Zim and to Steve Raspi (who was still collecting names and addies - their mailing list will double!)-- hugs all round, filed on out. So early to be leaving the venue, not yet midnight. ("Did you guys all remember to call your moms? " asked Aaron. "You've got about ten minutes left.")

We headed out, said a few words to Ed and Bev and others, shaking off the psychic debris. Too far to go to get home tonight; we'll drive till we find a motel. We're gone. Our party peels apart, cars leaving the caravan on to this destination or that one - we're the only ones going home.
After we stop for the night somewhere down the road. ...to main gig reviews page.