Sony Blockbuster Pavilion, Philadelphia/Camden, Friday, 11/13/98.

Same old Pavilion, with its labyrinthine parking process and circling cop cars. State troopers were friendlier this year; one was even a fan, and told us he'd be coming to the show once he got off duty). Killed the time most pleasantly with the company of old and new family, including Claudia (with his revamped Anti-flag, now featuring a nifty Omega-face in place of the shock field), Damion/Dream, Meghan and Watcher along with the regulars (Klyph and Regina, Kristen, Jeff C., SadisticJen and Jen13). Had to wait outside after the door opened for hand-delivery of my ticket - woo! First pit show of the tour! And I'm in the exact same spot as my last pit show, creating a weird little deja-vu. They're even still printing a warning on their wristbands about how you enter the dreaded "moshing area" at your own risk. Heh.-- I sure hope this one works better than that 1997 set did...

Spent the usual barricade time chatting up the security guys and enjoying the fact that we knew practically everyone on the bar. End-to-end Spooks! Darkness falls right on time. 12 Rounds' set definitely works better when you're close-to and can watch singer Claudia's expressions - she's got the pretty/scary marionette thing down cold, sliding from elaborate tragic gazes to a nasty vampire grin. Only one in the band with any conscious stage presence. The keyboard guy's also fun to watch, dancing around and punching computer buttons, groovin' in his own little world.

I wish I felt better - there's not even a bad crush yet and I'm already feeling dizzy. Trying to remember when I last had food. Thirty hours or so ago? Or longer than that?...[eventually turned out to be 48-50...not smart...]

Pink Floyd's "The Wall" is the between-sets music this tour. No one seems to know the words, so there's general restless silence once we get past the rousing "Hey teacher! Leave them kids alone!" bit. We stand and collect ourselves and watch the sparkly curtain ripple in the fan-breeze. Darkness falls...

"This isn't me, I'm not mechanical..."
...and there are the white strobes and the Omega-shadow. The kids roar but the shadow shows no response. Manson's arm gestures are awkward, uncertain - first one jabs out at an angle, then the other - from the elbow only, upper arms pinned tight to his sides. The restriction's got to be deliberate because he usually makes such use of the length of his arms and hands. As if he's finally got the hang of using them he stretches out his arms and snaps the palms down sharply, and the curtain drops, and there he is.

He throws off the fuzzy headpiece and stamps one boot up onto the riser. Baby-blue bodysuit with rhinestone-glitter accents, long-sleeved but crotchless and buttless, with a sparkly thong codpiece and stacksoled blue boots. Really drills the eye in conjunction with the streaked red hair and those eerie red contact lenses. We're crushed into the barricade and it feels almost like old times.

They blast into "Reflecting God" -- it's hard to adjust to this as the set opener, I'm so used to it as a climactic piece. It's the same edited version as last tour, the chorus pared down to "Scar, scar, can you feel my power? Shoot shoot shoot motherfucker --". It stamps to its ending and leads directly into the spacey synth chords of "Great Big White World". Quite a jolt: the morning after the end of the world. Funny thing, it doesn't feel as touching or sad down here as it did in Richmond, where we had seats; there it had me in tears, but not here. Maybe because his body-language doesn't seem as vulnerable up close. He looks gorgeous, he's never before been so close to pretty, but the song still doesn't play the same.

"Big White World" into "Cake and Sodomy" and you'd think they'd be up to here with this song by now, but Manson delivers it with the same old snap and growl, and Pogo slams his drum shots with as much authority as ever. --He looks great this time, too, big spiky Mohawk contrasting with that deceptively baby-smooth face; elevated like Ginger on a round platform with room for his keyboards and drumset, he looks more than ever like some mad inventor surrounded by arcane gadgetry. The platforms are set round with TV screens that flicker a steady loop of static (of course, everything on this tour is into snow..=)- if God's in the TV he's concluded his broadcast day. (The static is in color for Act Two and goes black in Act Three; no TV after the Apocalypse?...)

From there into the cannonfire drumming of "Posthuman". I just KNEW this one would kick ass live and it does that, it does. John5 looks and sounds great in glitter and feather boa, and boings around in big, high, knees-tucked bounces, a trick he must've learned trying to upstage Certain Metal Stars.=) Manson prowls and paces the stage, perching on the openwork metal cages that cover the foremost lights, light snapping off his spangles. He swings a scanning finger at the first rows, shaking his head as he sings "this isn't god, this isn't god" - what, we're not? - and singing right into the faces at his immediate feet, which makes me happy as this is my most-favorite MA track =). --Extended drum solo at the end of this one, which is probably covering for a costume change, right?...

..right. Out from the rear sways our old friend the Spider from Mars, a/k/a Stilt Manson, beloved apparition of the ACS tour. He's singing "Mechanical Animals", which I guess makes sense enough; nice perceptual jolt when he sings "This isn't me, I'm not mechanical" while looking very much so. - The WWI pilot's helmet is covered by a more modern-looking white one and there's no flute/recorder, but he's as gangling-graceful in this rig as before, his balance never faltering when he swings the arm canes overhead. (Must be like riding a bike, you never forget how. =) I wonder if he has the same moment of bad recollection I have? It was in this situation that the last Camden show hit meltdown... But no problem this time, the new headset (which he's now wearing with *all* his costumes - there's a pocket sewn into the back of each one for what looks like a receiver or battery pack) works to perfection, and the song ends without incident. Whew.

Next costume change is a real headspinner, a film-noir look with long black leather trenchcoat and fedora, in which Manson feelingly sings "Speed of Pain". (Copped from Gary Numan most likely, but then Numan copped it from Bogart...) --First appearance of the background singers/dancers, supplying the required oooo's. Another surprise as "snow" begins to fall, not soap-foam as last tour but paper confetti. (Excellent choice; just as pretty an effect as it falls through the beams of light, but lacking the foam's nasty chemical taste and smell.)

..end of Act One...
(I am feeling really fkn' awful by now. Dizzy, too hot, and the sound is starting to get distant while a dark purple blur creeps into the edges of my field of vision, all of which mean that I'm on the edge of checking out. GodDAMN, not now! I force myself to breathe slowly and deeply, and from somewhere a cool breeze sweeps across the pit, which helps to clear my head...)

...out steps Manson in a knock-yr-eyes-out red sequined outfit with red feathered sleeves and big red boots, the "Dope Show" video costume, and he looks utterly gorgeous. I mean, his legs look a mile long... Welcome to Act Two, Omega Goes Hollywood. They kick into "Rock Is Dead", another one I love, and Manson stomps like he's in KISS, leaning over the pit, holding out the mike to get some help with the "la la la"s. It's huge fun and just as semiotically confusing as I expected, and DAMN I want to be completely here and enjoying it, but I cannot breathe or keep my feet under me. The crowd's not rough (hardly any surfers), it's just packed too tight, and I'm draped on the rail like a towel, sound fuzzing and the purple blur closing in. Time to admit defeat while we can. I make it through "Rock Is Dead", then get the attention of the nearest security guy (they were all terrific) and get hauled out of the pit. (Judy later tells me I did a nice job - didn't kick anyone. =)

They don't throw me out, apparently having some way to signal each other who's being ejected for surfing and who's an innocent refugee from the crush. I'm allowed to stumble to the nearest place I can sit down - the step-up on the security side of the left-wing barricade - and drop myself. Think I missed three songs, likely "Sweet Dreams", "Dope Show", and "Lunchbox". Begin feeling able to pay attention again somewhere during "User Friendly" - if he did anything tacky with the singer-dancers, I didn't see it - and get back on my feet in time for Manson's pro-drug chat with God. (In which the Big Guy tells Manson that Jesus Christ invented a variety of drugs; I don't get this at all. Surely if that were the case, ol' Yahweh would regard it as pretty embarrassing, and be unlikely to discuss it with anyone, let alone one of his most outspoken critics. Unless we're supposed to consider it funny that Marilyn-god-damn-Manson and the Man Upstairs are now on conversational terms...)

I move up to the left edge of the stage, by the speakers. (Can't remember what song this was...maybe "Don't Like the Drugs"...) It's scattered with squares of white confetti and gold tinsel from the "glitter cannons" that go off for "Lunchbox" (so I know I missed that one). The pit bounces enthusiastically and I lean on the edge, the speakers blasting so hard it feels like the wind of a fan, and pay attention. At this little distance I have the best of both spaces - I'm on the floor but not in the crush - and can get a really good look at the performance. Something's missing here. I can't get my finger on it. Last night I thought Manson was just ticked off by having people in seats who *stayed* in their seats. But tonight he's got a surging pit at his feet, just as he likes it, and he still seems somehow flat and rote, by-the-numbers. It's loud and energetic, and looks great, but the intensity and defiance, the sense of danger, the emotional grip just aren't there. I don't know. Maybe it's just me.

Act Three, Antichrist Superstar. (EVB thinks this inverted order makes sense if you postulate that the Omega phase shows Manson's rise to super-stardom and ACS shows what he does with that stardom. That, ergo, while MA has happened in real-time/the present, ACS happens - as Manson has said many times that it did/will - in the future, and was transmitted to him from thence. I think this makes an excellent template for the shows and hereby adopt it gratefully.)
-- The podium and shock banners and the black-and-red televangelist suit reappear, though the band don't have to wear those shiny helmets this time, and Manson straightens his tie, tosses kisses, swings himself puppetlike over the lectern just as last tour. The suit looks oddly different with his new short red hair, and he seems aware of that, pulling the whole top of it - shirt, tie, suit jacket and all - off himself in one piece to finish the song barechested. (--don't know if it's The Drugs or what, but he's looking *real* sleek; the slight weight gain we remarked upon during the ACS tour is gone but good.) The pit fights like a pirahna tank for the tossed Bible and Manson grins like a shark, all teeth, downright creepy over the mutant-red contacts. Omega-as-ACS - Omega being the frozen-souled negative twin to the empathic alien androgyne - lends a dimension that Manson-as-ACS didn't have, the scariness of complete amorality. This ACS really might have pressed the red button...
"Beautiful People" and (I think) "RnR Nigger"; they're blurring together by now; at least one person says they played "Hate Anthem" but I can't remember hearing that. "Disassociative" (damn!) and "Mr. Superstar" were definitely not there. No encores. Don't think this tour has one.

Memo: get more sleep/food before show in future.
==angelynx== 11-19-98


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