Mid-Hudson Civic Center, Poughkeepsie, NY, 11-21-98.

---After so many changes of plan that I'm no longer sure who's even going to these shows, we finally pull over the Mid-Hudson Bridge and come in sight of the venue. Creepy place, Poughkeepsie; only 3:00 Saturday afternoon but just about everything's already shut down for the night. The Mid-Hudson Civic Center turns out to be hooked up Siamese-twinstyle with the Sheraton, where the band and several Spooks are staying. This gives the standing line a great view of the hotel's grandly lit main entrance (we remark that we're just waiting for all those lightbulbs to flash "DRUGS"), whereby we're able to scare the daylights out of a large wedding party that arrives mid-afternoon. (Bet they're having second thoughts about ever having kids. =) This time of year it seems the Center's primarily an ice-hockey arena and skating rink, and families toting skates and sticks file past us all afternoon and evening, looking more-than-nervously at the lot of us as we continue to gather. Heh.

Some of the earliest arrivals had come prepared with a computer-printed banner - "DANGER = MANSON LINE STARTS HERE" - plus blankets and a CD player, so we're well entertained with MM and NIN music as the day wears on. (The ice-skating families look less well entertained, not having anticipated exposing kiddies to the likes of "I'm not in love but I'm gonna fuck ya...") We stand and yak with the clan (hi Rudy, Mike/Claudia, Regina, Klyph, Kristen, M-Carrie, P-Carrie, S-Jen, Jen13, et al, et al., --plus a BIG special hi to our long-unseen sisters the Slashers!) about sundry things of amusement. Coyote and EVB had attended a horror/SF convention the day before at which original MM bassist Gidget Gein was one of the guests (don't ask) and now share many details of their conversation with said well-remembered Spooky Kid. The Sheraton dis-endears itself to various Family members by being collectively a dick about access to rooms and restaurant. (In case I haven't mentioned it yet, Zepp is looking way goddamn good this year, with long loose hair and no scruffy goatee.>=) And so on...

In we go. It's one of those places where they want you to sit on the floor and wait for the call to barricade. Floor's cold, just plywood laid over the ice of the arena, and I have a happy Dayton flashback that must be a good omen. We sit, we shiver, we wait - we lunge. Victory! On the bar once again and *right*dead*center*, with Manson's mikestand square in front of me. Let the night begin.

12 Rounds play. Same as same as, yeah right great, whatever. The only notable thing about their set this time is a distinct reek of butane (and vomit) that we keep getting the whole time they're on - both smells vanish when they do. WTF?.... anyway, they go away. The crush on the rail continues to tighten throughout "The Wall" - the whole arena floor is packed, which ought to be enough pit to keep Manson happy.... Darkness, smoke, white light, shadow. There they are.

Right away this one feels good. The energy level shoots to the ceiling. Manson has some trouble getting his big Omega headpiece off and is still yanking at the fastenings into the first verse, but doesn't lose his temper, another good omen. (I actually cheer as he finally peels away the thing and flings it behind him, throwing himself forward into the song without a backward look.) The floor's already more viscerally engaged in the show than any I've been in this tour - roaring and thrashing out the "shoot shoot shoot"s - and Manson's eating it up, stalking and lunging, red eyes catching the underlighting like fire-opal. A lovely, heartfelt "Great Big White World", an old-fashioned racketing "Cake & Sodomy" and a scorching "Posthuman"; the set's kicking like crazy, the cyclic energy flow finally working. I'm flattened to the gridwork barricade like a pinned butterfly but I'm utterly happy, home at last. This is what it's like! Man, have I missed it!

Finally clear to me what's been wrong with the shows I've seen so far - they were too stylized and mannered, elaborate set-pieces that Manson seemed framed by but not involved with. Now we're all involved, got our teeth into it, and the old power and fury come out full blast. People throw themselves at the barricade not caring about damage. What happened? Is it the floor? What's different tonight? (Well, one thing is the opening to "User Friendly", which has been a generalized cynical snarl, "How many of you are in love tonight?...How many just want to get fucked?" There's a more specific sting in there this time: "How many of you guys are in love tonight? How many of your girlfriends just want to get fucked?.." Um..ohhh-kay...)

-- Standard MA set and it charges on without a break, everything ticking along clean as a digital readout. It's such a kick to have everyone so into it at last! It's tight on the rail but there's never a point where I can't breathe and the security's got the overhead exodus well in hand (these guys even pat you on the head when all's clear =) so we're just fine. John and Twig charge around like excited pups and Manson's ultra wired, but good wired, even leaning out far enough to let kids touch his fingers - when'd you last see that?! The show's exhibitionist quotient is as high as ever - no point in even counting how many times Manson fondles his crotch and ass - but there's one tonight he hasn't done before or since, sliding his fingers into his shiny codpiece, then drawing them just as slowly back up to his mouth and giving them a long savoring lick. Whew. (And Twiggy and John 5 have a long clinch half-crouched on the stage, with Twig doing the neck-nuzzle/smooch bit and J5 giving a terrific display of bliss. =) -- A huge, dramatic "Mechanical Animals" on the stilts (everyone loves that), "Sweet Dreams" and then "Speed of Pain". What is it I don't get about this song? Everyone assured me it would bring me to tears, but I can lean on the rail, watch it close-up (in between quitters being hauled over my head) and only think, yeah, pretty. Marilyn looks smashing in his long leather coat and hat and uses the lighting superbly (as does Pogo, breaking a wide ray into brilliant shafts with his spiky Mohawk), but I'm still not getting anything out of it but nice staging. Damn, it must be there...

So here's the complete set list. ACT ONE: Reflecting God, Great Big White World, Cake and Sodomy, Posthuman, Mechanical Animals, Sweet Dreams, Speed of Pain. ACT TWO ("from the drug capital of the world, Hollywood, California...") Rock Is Dead, Dope Show, Lunchbox, User Friendly (insert Marilyn's pro-drug chat with God here), Don't Like The Drugs, Rock'n'Roll Nigger. ACT THREE: Antichrist Superstar, Beautiful People, Irresponsible Hate Anthem. No encores this tour - when they don't want to do an encore they leave out IHA instead.

--They definitely do IHA tonight (by midway thru a show you can generally tell which crowds aren't gonna get the full set, but there was no doubt of this one) and it's a stormer too. Complete with microphone stand bashing , mainly to Marilyn's new favorite target, the rack of water bottles set down on Ginger's drum riser. Plastic crushes and water geysers in all directions. We're done. GodDAMN!

Aftershow is the best yet with four out of five Mansons in attendance. Twiggy's arrival is one for the books - he bursts thru the dressing room door, covers the distance in two bounds and throws his arm around coyote's neck from behind! Swear, one second he wasn't there and the next he had my stunned roomie in a headlock. But he let go before she lost TOO much air =) and said a quick hi before sprinting off again... y'just never know what to expect. Ginger was settled at a table talking to anyone, John flirted with whoever'd hold still for it, and Pogo immediately disappeared onto the floor - yeah, the floor - sitting crosslegged and talking nonstop. Classic. I got up the nerve to talk to him this time, though (uh-huh, three years and I'm still afraid to talk to Pogo) because I had to tell him how great I think his stuff on this album is. Actually got the words out, actually got a "*blink* Well. Thank you." So my grand total of sentences exchanged with the Cryptic One ascends to four. =)

Aaron's keeping an eye on his charges while exchanging remarks with a rattled-looking hotel security guy. By this time we've had some bulletins (from Zepp and others) about the amount of damage done to the dressing room, so we're stealing peeks through the door every time someone opens it. It really does look like a cyclone went thru a convenience store. Juice cartons, pizza boxes, paper food containers of all kinds heaped a foot deep on the floor, plus some disarrayed furniture - though their own shock-symbol door frame was of course unharmed. Zepp explains that Manson decided to burn a t-shirt in the sink (source of the butane smell during 12 Rounds' set, we wonder?...) and was stopped by security, who huffed that if he didn't quit they'd cancel the show. And that set them all off. Bizarre tales of bonfires and semi-nudity follow...oh, for videotape...

--After this we get an odd invitation to the effect that there's a private party in the hotel, girls only allowed, and our gang is invited to go. So we rush to the car, clean up as best we can, and smuggle ourselves upstairs to the room number we were given, completely in the dark as to just what's going on here. (This is not the way they usually assemble the band's snack tray, and anyway, if that were it they wouldn't ask us - they know us better than that.) It's a conference-type room, not a bedroom, with chairs and a meeting table. There are already 25 or so girls/women there when we get there, most of 'em just as average-looking as us, plus some cases of beer and soda. No one seems to have the least idea what to do, so we claim the table, have a can of Coke each and build pyramids with the glasses. Time passes. John 5 walks thru but doesn't stay. Finally Jonathan comes in to say that the band's all way past drunk and won't be coming over, so we all may as well book out. What-ever...everyone lines up for the bathroom before departing, which is how I missed the sight of Pogo breezing in, dressed in a kimono (!) and cheerily (!) brandishing a bottle, before leaving with a girl. Mysteries of the Glam Rock'n'Roll Lifestyle...

Aaah, whatever. We're gone. See ya in Lowell. ==a==

...go on to the next night.
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