Music Hall, Cleveland, OH, 11/14/98.

Another beautiful old theatre, though (we think) built for plays rather than movies. Classical Greek/Romanesque figures and masks everywhere in a gold-&-ivory color scheme. We're a bit late in arriving - not that it matters, since the place is seated - and make up for it by spending 12 Rounds' set in the lobby hanging out with beaucoup de Spooks, many unseen since last tour. Happy happy me to see rudy, Jeff Davis and Erika/chickenkiller again. =) There are a few soulsaver types handing out flyers outside - a lot rarer this tour than last - and I take one or two but am disappointed to find they're all ones I've seen. Gee, guys, you could try harder than that. (Me: "Aw, I've already got all these, I got them last tour. " Soulsaver: "Well, you should read them then!" Me: "I did, that's how I know I've got them..."...sheesh...)

12 Rounds finish and I head up to find our seats. We're way high in the nosebleeds, second balcony, and it's so dizzily vertical you're almost afraid to stand up - it's like standing on the side of a very steep hill. Settle and worry that Jen13 & her carload aren't here by one my seatmates arrive but not Jen...just as the lights go out she appears on the steps! Whew!
--Even tho it's on the vertiginous side it's a great perspective on the show, an angle we may never have again, so I resolve to try and appreciate it. Unhappy acrophobe Coyote is finding that a little harder to do...

...robotic voice and Omega-shadow. Immediately everyone's on their feet, so I guess we'd better cope. Either the lighting's different this time or it just looks different from up here, as there are two shadows from slightly different angles. I'm struck once again by the rigid formality of the silhouette: he's made such a striking progression of entrances, scary monster to regal star to sharp inhuman icon. Still seems to be working out the timing of the arm movements; maybe he's not sure exactly how to get the impression he wants, maybe he likes to sniff out the crowd vibe first. But he makes the signal and the curtain's whisked away.

The crowd cheers. Just. UH-oh.

They blast thru "Reflecting God" and the nonstop switch to "Great Big White World" draws a huge roar, which is an improvement. The people with floor seats are at least standing, which is way better than their counterparts in Richmond did, and doing some of that lively but feet-rooted dancing that's your best compromise with seats (so am I =). I hope this will placate Manson a bit but I'm already getting Richmond vibes up here...

Lots of little details are more apparent from this angle. There are shadow-images projected on the curtain from time to time, and patterns projected on the floor. The dead-channel snow on the TV screens is black-and-white during the opening act but in colors during the Omega sequence. And of course the Varilights are amazing, especially (IMHO) when slicing thru the fog in "Speed of Pain" as if in an X-File. --Tons of stuff to time correctly, this must be an insanely complicated show to stage and pull off night after night, especially with the Towering Perfectionist at the helm. (And we thought ACS was tough.)

But you hafta admit, it's fun to watch. And the band's obviously enjoying its new-found physical freedom - they're all cordless this tour. Twiggy (I love that holographic silver-lilac long dress!) roams around at will, creeping up to Pogo's keyboard riser for attention, prowling 'round and 'round Ginger. It's such a kick to be constantly surprised by where he's gotten to. John's acrobatics would also be tied down by a plug-in, but having no such problem he's free to careen around like a superball, which is even more fun.

As in Richmond, though, Manson's not happy with the floor crowd, and taunts them, saying he's faced protestors that made more noise than they have. He doesn't demand house lights as at the VA show, but he does say he won't go on "until you show me something". (I expected people to take him literally and start flashing body parts - if anyone did, I missed it.) There's an obliging roar, but you get the feeling that a lot of these people would just as soon be at any other concert, yelling for any other band. It's not an evil vibe, just unexpectedly bland - ordinary rock fans out for some fun on a Saturday night. How'd we inherit so many of 'em? I'd honestly rather be dealing with hostility than this amiable, unexpectant, marshmallow crowd - there's something creepy about them. Accustomed as we are to the polar opposite. [I look around at practically everyone I know, devoted fanatic Spooks every last one, stuck up here in the rafters, and can only grit my teeth at the good fortune of the norm-life-babies; in a perfect world such people would not get floor.]
--Manson nudges them a few more times, sees that he's not gonna get much more out of them, and goes back to work with a near-visible black sizzle over his head. We are NOT gonna hear the full set tonight.

At last we get to see the glitter cannons go off for "Lunchbox", a big, silent puff of gold sparkles suddenly filling the air at either end of the stage. "User Friendly" and "Don't Like the Drugs" sound really bitchy and pissed-off - Manson grates out "I'm not in love, but I'm gonna fuck your mouth...and in your aaaassss" with dripping contempt and disgust. DLTD has a funny moment with Manson/Omega stepping to the rear of the stage and raising his arms in praise to the big, flashing DRUGS sign, to which Pogo also likes to pay homage. It's become the Divine Presence of this tour, which I guess figures, since we now know Jesus is responsible for so many controlled substances.=) --Twiggy's running laps around Ginger's drum platform and there's energy in little bursts here and there, but I'm still getting this overall dysfunction vibe. It's actually tiring. We've discussed the importance of the constant two-way energy flow to the success of an MM show, but I've never seen a better working example of how hard it is to keep the thing - and yourself - running when that flow's not on.

BTW, has anyone managed to figure out what Manson's saying in place of "I am the hydra" in ACS now? It's not "hydra" - there's a definite sibilance in it. Might be "huckster"? ...not yet sure. Anybody?...

--let's just cut to the aftershow. First time we've seen Pogo at one of these in many a long moon, and he looked great, towering in a pair of astonishing lightning-bolt platform boots about, oh, a foot high. (Best moment in Cleveland: watching him navigate down a sloped metal ramp in said boots, which he did capably, albeit w/great care.) Ginger and John were there too, and I have it on reliable authority that J5 gives good hug. =) Also got to meet several Warner relatives, including (for the first time) Manson's mom, his cousin Chad (mentioned in the bio) and Chad's little boy, who looks spookily like the photos we've seen of li'l Brian. Strong family resemblance thru these Warner guys. --Enjoyed watching the props torn down as well; there's just something funny about watching a set of letters that spell out DRUGS about four feet high being racked one by one into a cart and wheeled past you. I mean, man, that's a LOT of drugs! =) The Omega-face with glowing eyes that hangs behind the band during the first half of Act Two is an easy 5-6 feet high, frame is something solid (looks like wood) painted white while the face is painted onto what looks like heavy acetate. (-and painted carefully - the design was traced or stenciled onto it as a painting guide and whoever did it stayed very neatly inside the lines. Somehow I like that.)

...a few trivial details for yr enjoyment.

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