TVD Live Shots:
Marilyn Manson and the Smashing Pumpkins at Concord Pavilion, 7/7

It’s been an epic past few weeks for me. First I got to watch Marilyn Manson interviewed at Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity in the south of France—check out my recap here—and then I got to photograph Manson’s epic live show here in the Bay Area. Within the span of fourteen days I saw two very different sides of Manson. One where he was a calm and reserved storyteller, and the other the exact opposite in the form of a flamboyant rock star commanding the stage and demanding attention.

During Cannes Lions, Manson joined Tor Myren, Chief Creative Officer at Grey Advertising, on the main stage for an interview appropriately titled “A Conversation with the Antichrist.” The topic was branding lessons for marketers. The format was talk show style. The players were two of the most creative minds on the planet, but with very different roles; an artist and an advertising exec, and it was brilliant.

The result was a side of Manson that many of us don’t get to see: a stripped down minimal makeup wearing Manson coming across very soft-spoken and seemingly shy. It’s a much different persona than the than larger than life one Manson assumes on stage.

Marilyn Manson continues to evolve as an artist. His latest album The Pale Emperor is an absolute masterpiece and his best work to date. This album is much more about the music and the lyrics than any elements of shock rock in his earlier work. It’s a very bold statement from Manson and has the substance to back it all up while along the way reminding us that he can still write a riff that will tear your head off. He wasted no time at all letting the capacity crowd at Concord Pavilion know that.

Opening up with “Deep Six” from the new record there was a huge black curtain covering the stage as the band played the slow building intro. There were probably 15 photographers lined up in front of the stage but I was hanging near stage right. I could see just enough behind the curtain to see that Manson was looking towards the back of the stage getting ready to unleash the fury and when that curtain dropped down, it was on. “Deep Six” hits like a freight train from hell on a one-way track to fuck-off-ville.

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Manson has a one-song rule in place for photographers, which is pretty unique. During the first song I found myself almost forgetting to actually take any photos, as I’m a fan first, photographer second. This was pretty much my favorite Manson song that I now had to watch through the lens. That’s ok because I don’t think I’ve ever taken better photos in my short, 4-year semi-pro career.

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Next up was another modern classic, “No Reflection” from 2012’s Born Villain release. Then the theatrics began and the show would be taken to another level, one which Manson has built his reputation upon. Classic scenes from tours of the past would be resurrected, but the show as a whole was a bold statement forward. Highlights from the show were a second number from The Pale Emperor in the form of “Third Day of a Seven Day Binge,” a rare inclusion of “Angel with the Scabbed Wings” which pretty much would have blown the roof off of the place if it had one, and of course the fan favorites such as “Mobscene,” “The Beautiful People,” and the oh so very relevant and timely “The Love Song.”

It was also incredibly cool to hear the very early stuff such as “Lunchbox” and I had forgotten how much I love Manson’s early work. I remember back in the ’90s I worked in a record store and the local record label rep brought in an advance copy of Portrait of an American Family. We put that thing on during the day and pretty much cleared out the store. We knew this was going to be something special.

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I have seen Manson a number of times including small clubs where he used to light lunchboxes on fire and frighten the audience with outfits that would make Pinhead from Hellraiser blush. This was the Manson that I remembered from my rebellious late teen years and he was still as convincing as ever. Hearing the old with the new and seeing Twiggy back in the band was a pretty amazing experience, even though I thought it was a bit short. That’s the problem with co-headliners; Manson could have easily played another full hour.

The Smashing Pumpkins took to the stage shortly after Manson. This was going to be quite an act to follow, but who better to be up for the challenge than a Pumpkins lineup firing on all cylinders. Coming out of the gate swinging, the band went right into “Cherub Rock.” Then the hits just kept coming—sort of like a hits-a-palooza. “Bullet with Butterfly Wings,” “Tonight, Tonight,” “Ava Adore,” a mind-blowing version of “Zero,” and “Mayonnaise.”

Billy Corgan hasn’t lost his edge, and with drummer Jimmy Chamberlain back in the saddle, the band did not miss a beat.

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Smashing Pumpkins

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Manson Photos

Bottom line: I would have never thought these two artists would mesh so well together for a tour of this size, but it works. Highly recommended.

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