A wince, a grin, a half-cocked crooked smirk darkly shinned while his water washed reddened eyes easily painted a portrait beyond that of his modern family but, showing Marilyn Manson’s current state of aguishly portrayed pain. Which gave way to his completely understandably haphazard performance on that gloom glazed Sunday at San Bernardino’s Knotfest. Once the black veil dropped and the stage broke away illuminated out of the darkness Manson was tied up to a hydraulic wheeled mechanical throne. Standing and sitting stationary below two massive monolithic metallic 9mm handguns (the same props which had fallen on top of him crippling Manson during the last show he had played before now.) I know I wasn’t alone in my confused state of disappointment believing he’d be in the same place for the duration of his set, since being literally confined to a chair. Luckily that was far from what would unfold in the coming moments of his set. Manson broke those assumptions with the aide of two sturdy nurses whom remained watching Manson from a few feet behind him to ensure no further injury would befall the shock rock king of the 90’s and two-thousands.
After the opening song came to a close the two nurses aided Manson to a standing position, Manson then addressed the crowd immediately commenting on his physical crippled state. He whispered to the crowd, “You can break my bones, you do whatever, but you can’t kill this.” The roar of the crowd was reassuring in their undying support for the strong willed performer who despite medical advice refused to skip one of the biggest shows of this annual festival. Thanking the people who made it out despite of what’s been currently happening in the world he proclaimed his happiness to see such a; “MobScene.” Banners behind the band dropped from above and the strobes flashed and music blared as they proceeded to kick out the good old fashion Manson jams. After a few more songs passed Manson was helped to a wheel chair under the veil of darkness once the lights again rose Manson was brandishing a mock replica of an AK-47 submachine gun made up as his microphone stand. During this very night there happened to be a massacre in Texas by a gunman carrying an automatic weapon similar to that of Manson’s mic stand. Later in following interviews, Manson aware at the time of the tragic Texas events, proclaimed that his choice to use the gun stage prop was a social commentary on how readily available it is to obtain deadly firearms in our nation, and how something has to change in order to stop all this unnecessary gun violence. Manson has always appalled gun violence; back when he was being used as a scapegoat due to the Columbine school shooters whom had a collection of his records the press asked Manson what he would tell the shooters if he had a chance to talk to them before their sadistic massacre. Manson replied saying he wouldn’t have said anything, he would of did something no one else in their life had done, and that’s listen. One must also understand that it wouldn’t be much of a Manson show without some shock and awe, without some controversial stage antics in which Manson has built his career on doing.
For a third time the stage fell dark and Manson returned again to his throne, this time having done another wardrobe change. He looked as if he were some demented Pope of an insane Asylum. He then performed several songs mainly one from his recent release; “Heaven Upside Down” the song, “Kill4Me” He once again returned to a standing position with another dress change this time much more like he was in full drag, he began to comment then on his happiness on California’s recent passing of the recreational and medical use of legal marijuana. Which he transitioned into to shared about the pandemic of pharmaceutical drugs plaguing our nation, suggesting that he might be on some painkillers himself, and given his recent injury he had good reason to be very highly medicated on any number of opioids. This was a perfect transition into his beloved hit “Dope Show.” Once more addressing the crowd thanking them for their undying support proclaiming thanks to the people from Los Angles/Hollywood and adjoining California cities he touched on the façade built up by the music industry and the emptiness and corruption of big business and how they still run a majority of all facets of entertainment which was a perfect bridge into what can arguably be his most popular hit, “The Beautiful People.”
In his finale the stage fell dark for one final time. Blue hues gleamed and a tint of eerie green grew out from the stage into the night sky revealing Manson in a tattered ripped medical gown he held in one hand an examiners light bulb and in another his microphone. His band bowed down around the gurney he sat upon and they began playing their final song; The Eurhythmics cover song, Manson infamous rendition of “Sweet Dreams (are Made of These)” He sorrowfully screamed sweetly into the nights sky. You could truly hear his pain crackling at his vocal chords. It was by far his best performance of the night, and a beautiful way although infecting most of us with a thrashing ocean of melancholy Manson performed to the pinnacle of his ability given his medical restrictions. In typical Manson fashion he pushed the envelope as far as he could muster giving us a memorable live performance I shall never forget. Some could criticize him for his lack of movement or lack of stage presence but, when you weigh all the pain he must’ve been in and the mass doses of medication he was surely on I standby my assertion that he did put on a fantastic live show which I hardly expected him to give half as much heart as he managed to give. I have a newfound respect for him as a performer and a newly rekindled love for the menacing music of Marilyn Manson. I am anticipating his next performance once he’s completely healed, and back on the road.