Marilyn Manson brings the darkness to London

The Pale Emperor headlines a sold out Hammersmith Apollo

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After a string of disheartening album releases and embarrassingly sloppy live performances, fans of the once so controversial God Of Fuck began to worry that his garish nightmare might be grinding to a disappointing end.

But just when we all thought there was no place for Manson in 2015, he turned things around with new album The Pale Emperor. The modern Manson swapped industrial ragers for sleazy blues-rock and though it’s difficult not to compare it to his golden period from the late ‘90s, it’s gotten him back in the game and playing to a sold-out venue tonight.

(Image: © Kevin Nixon)

Manson arrives fashionably late; it’s at least half an hour of waiting before The Louvin Brothers’ country gospel classic Satan Is Real seeps from the speakers and Manson finally bursts onstage to hurl straight into one of the heavier tracks from his new album, Deep Six. Gone are the days when Manson would parade around provocatively in little more than a corset as he’s fully clothed in black tonight, though he does manage a few costume changes over the course of the evening.

But following Deep Six, very little from The Pale Emperor is showcased. What Manson has done with his setlist tonight is clever; he’s dug out the classics. As well as the usual hits like Disposable Teens and The Beautiful People, he unearths some unexpected tracks like Angel With The Scabbed Wings and Tourniquet. Many songs are delivered with extra theatrics: for Sweet Dreams he stomps around on stilts, and for Antichrist Superstar he takes to a pulpit with a burning bible. Dry ice and a spectacular light show only add to the dramatics.

(Image: © Kevin Nixon)

There’s no doubt that every last trace of controversy and shock factor once associated with Manson has dissolved. At one point Manson squawks awkwardly: “If you go down to the woods today, you’re gonna get fucked in the ass by a bear.” Whatever his aim for the statement was, it’s met with some cringing and bemusement. But though the shock factor was what made him infamous, it was the strength of the music that earned him his fans, and tonight’s stellar setlist reminds us of that fact.

Sure, he’s still a bit sloppy at times, stumbling onstage and knocking over various pieces of equipment, sending roadies scrambling in his wake. The sound from his microphone is at times muddy – but when the entire room is screaming along to his hits, those glory days don’t seem like such a distant memory anymore.

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All photos by Kevin Nixon.

Setlist

Deep Six
Disposable Teens
mOBSCENE
No Reflection
Cupid Carries a Gun
Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)
Angel With The Scabbed Wings
Tourniquet
Irresponsible Hate Anthem
The Dope Show
Antichrist Superstar
The Beautiful People
Coma White