Mother Nature tried her best to keep metal fans from catching two of the most prominent acts in the genre Saturday night at Ak-chin Pavilion as Slipknot and Marilyn Manson rolled through town.
After openers Of Mice & Men kicked things off, the Phoenix monsoon took over. Nearly 30 minutes before Marilyn Manson was scheduled to hit the stage, rain and lightning pelted the pavilion and forced fans seated on the lawn to evacuate to the venue to find shelter from the storm. Fans grew restless as they exited the gates, and it was unclear if the show would continue; after all, this show was originally scheduled for June before Slipknot lead singer Corey Taylor unknowingly broke his neck (how metal is that?).
After more than an hour delay, fans re-entered Ak-chin Pavilion with the help of the venue's staff, who did a great job of keeping fans calm and safe, and Halloween in August resumed. Marilyn Manson made up for lost time. The Pale Emperor took fans back to the days when he was pissing off parents and churchgoers alike with opener "Angel With the Scabbed Wings," just as he did on the Antichrist Superstar tour back in the '90s. Manson's live show has changed through the years, though. He isn't trying to scare anyone more than he's just trying to entertain himself, and you happen to be witnessing him having his own brand of fun. Before the band ran through "Disposable Teens," he had to make it a point to play a teaser of the song "Birds of Hell Awaiting," where he sings "This ain't no Fenix [sic], baby." Sometimes it's better to just accept what's going on and let him do this thing. Something that is also fresh is the two-guitar attack of Tyler Bates and Paul Wiley, which added an interesting dynamic to the band in a live setting. The Manson/Bates relationship clearly resonated on the band's last record, The Pale Emperor, and Bates brings great chops and energy to the stage as well. "mOBSCENE" followed, and a member of the band's crew emerged and appeared mid-stage to give Manson a substance that he then snorted up his nose in mid-song. Who really knows what the hell Manson is ever doing? He's taught us over the years that he doesn't like the drugs, but the drugs like him.
While the band visited as much of their massive catalog as they could in an hour, the only song from The Pale Emperor that made its way to the set was "Cupid Carries a Gun," which probably should have been replaced with "Deep Six." Things peaked during "Irresponsible Hate Anthem," as Manson reminded us just how potent he can be. The Antichrist Superstar-era material got the best reaction from fans, and when he stood on top of his podium delivering his sermon during the record's title track, you remembered just how legendary he can be. What Manson does best live is keeping you guessing and wondering what he will do next, and he has a great lineup of musicians who compliment his brand of chaos.
The band closed with the staple "The Beautiful People," and while it wasn't perfect, rock 'n' roll was never intended to be that way.
You'd never know that Slipknot singer Corey Taylor had broken his neck earlier this year. The masked singer came out of the gates strong during opener "The Negative One," and still brought his usual fury while sporting a neck brace. The Slipknot story has been an interesting one over the years, with the death of original bassist Paul Gray and the firing of drummer Joey Jordison. But the band hasn't skipped a beat and continues to make music.
Seeing a Slipknot show is like seeing a demented circus, and Taylor is the perfect ringleader holding the whole thing together. Like Manson, Slipknot isn't touring on a new record, so they relied heavily on older material like "Eyeless," from their debut self-titled record. The only knock on the band is that the masks sometimes make it hard to see the intensity in the members' faces as they are pummeling you over the head.
There is something special about seeing a band that played its first show in Phoenix during the 1999 OzzFest tour. What makes Slipknot special is the heavy grooves of tracks like "Before I Forget," but also the ability to keep things heavy but melodic on singles like "Killpop" and "Dead Memories," which were highlights of the show. While this show was a little less production-heavy, old-school fans were treated to more older material like "(sic)" and the encore consisting of "Surfacing," "Duality," and the closer "Spit It Out."
Slipknot and Marilyn Manson are both metal acts that love their pentagrams and spooky vibes, but beyond that they couldn't be more different. But the two bands fit together well. Manson beat the crowd into submission before headliners Slipknot delivered the knockout punch.
Last Night: Slipknot and Marilyn Manson at Ak-Chin Pavilion
Personal Bias: My ties to the Manson camp have been well documented.
Overheard: "I wish they'd play 'Cake And Sodomy.'"
The Crowd: Metalheads and spooky kids of all ages.
Random Notebook Dump: The whole lightning and rain issue could have been a disaster, but the staff at Ak-chin Pavilion were on top of their game and they deserve praise.