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Manson, Cooper fill outer harbor venue with darkness, drama

Seeing Marilyn Manson in the daylight was certainly both strange and unexpected. Manson, after all, has earned his stripes as the king of goth by courting the darkness, both musically and visually.

But at the Outer Harbor Concert site on Friday evening, Manson and his band of twisted outsiders took to the stage while the sun was still shining brightly over the water, and we could see what we might have only wanted to see beneath the forgiving atmosphere of dim light.

So it was. Manson himself seemed shocked by the arrangement. He arrived dressed in black, his face heavily made up to appear like a cross between a ’70s glam rock idol and a creature from some twisted vision of hell. Flanked by longtime compatriot Twiggy Ramirez on guitar, Fred Sablan on bass, drummer Jason Sutter and keyboardist Spencer Rollins, Manson delivered a strong set of his industrial-goth-metal-alternative “hits,” if we can call them that.

At the outset, he seemed blurry and bleary, as if just waking up. “No Reflection,” for example, found the singer hoarse, rambling about the stage like a reject from “The Nightmare Before Christmas.”

“The Dope Show” was better, but not by much. Manson seemed befuddled by the daylight, frankly. Opening for Alice Cooper was surely a dream of his, but it certainly meant taking a knee for the elder eminence of shock rock.

By the time Manson and the band fell into a take on Depeche Mode’s “Personal Jesus,” things had started to click. The master of twisted alternative rock grotesquery was suddenly on his game. His voice was warmed up and had settled into its ominous baritone nicely. “Mobscene” marked the full arrival of the Manson of old, as a massive schoolroom-type chair was rolled onto the stage, and Manson sang the song as he formed various contortionist poses on the chair, like a particularly naughty schoolboy from hell.

From there on out, things went very smoothly, as Manson led the band through a very well-received interpretation of the Eurythmics’ “Sweet Dreams are Made of This,” and then fell directly into the set’s strongest performance, “This Is the New Sh--,” which seemed to be a particular favorite of the crowd.

After an encore of “The Beautiful People,” Manson was gone, and too soon.

Alice Cooper took the stage at the stroke of 10, opening with an on-point “Hello Hooray,” before jumping straight into a slightly less-creepy “House of Fire,” and then falling rather eerily into “No More Mr. Nice Guy.”

Alice was, as ever, a sinister master of ceremonies, ringleader of a fabulous band that included the virtuosic and lovely Orianthi Panagaris on lead guitar. The band was simply outstanding throughout the show, sinking its teeth into Cooper’s blend of high drama, metal and seminal glam rock. The set list covered all the bases, from the early androgyny – “Billion Dollar Babies” offering the most torrid example of this period-to late-period cheese metal (“Posion”) and the Bob Ezrin-produced prog-glam of “Go To Hell” and “Welcome To My Nightmare.”

It was all pretty awesome, and the marriage of ’90s industrial-goth (Manson) and ’70s shock-rock (Cooper) seemed to satisfy the large and enthusiastic crowd. Once again, the sound, the sight lines, and the massive production at the Outer Harbor Concert site brought the majesty of major arena spectacle to downtown Buffalo.