Published Aug 01, 2003What better to do on a hot and stuffy Friday night than throw on some white face paint and black goth rags, and head off to the sold-out Marilyn Manson show? Luckily the Orpheum Theatre was air conditioned one wouldn't want one's makeup to run and hair to wilt. When it comes to these events, it's all about appearances really. I opted to forget the white makeup, but the all-ages audience of course rose to the occasion and looked the part, and in return got the performance they would expect from Manson's latest, The Golden Age of Grotesque. Ever a master of reinvention, Manson set the scene to put a post-modern/industrial spin on the cabarets of 1930s Berlin. Smoke machines puffed overtime to give the 2,700 capacity theatre a more intimate cabaret-like feel and the stark greys and blacks draped the stage in a cold, minimalist elegance. "The god of fuck" goose-stepped maniacally onstage in suspenders and frock-coat, one minute grimacing, grinning insanely the next. The almost inhuman Manson appeared like an animated, life-sized wind-up toy, but he ultimately controlled every element of the show. Even his masses would raise their fists in a fascist salute by his command, becoming part of the spectacle. His band let him keep the spotlight and stayed in each of their four corners, playing in mechanical motion, with the only real movement coming from the ridiculously cool flexi-keyboard on a giant spring stand. A duo of dancing girls in undies and army gear took turns in various displays of flexibility, making for plenty of crotch and bottom in a playful burlesque kind of way. Exaggeration and excess are Manson's forte, and he pulled it all off with a caustic, theatrical panache. What made this show good was the sense of irony that Manson stamps on everything. What made it great was that it was all-ages, giving the kids a more stimulating option to overpriced, vacuous boy/girl band concerts. Tight and aggressive, the band showed us how industrial-metal is done, and if you love it loud, this was the place to be. In keeping with the theme, it was the new material that made up the bulk of the set, but nothing lit up the crowd as much as when he asked, "Are you motherfuckers ready for the old shit?" They were ready alright, as there was nothing but a sea of bouncing heads to "Dopeshow," "Beautiful People" and "Sweet Dreams," which finished off the 90-minute set encore-free.