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July 22, 2018

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Review: Marilyn Manson brings Valentine’s Day mayhem to HOB

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L.E. Baskow

Marilyn Manson performs at House of Blues on Saturday, Feb. 14, 2015, in Mandalay Bay.

Marilyn Manson at House of Blues

Marilyn Manson performs at House of Blues on Saturday, Feb. 14, 2015, in Mandalay Bay. Launch slideshow »
Click to enlarge photo

Marilyn Manson performs at House of Blues on Saturday, Feb. 14, 2015, in Mandalay Bay.

Click to enlarge photo

Marilyn Manson performs at House of Blues on Saturday, Feb. 14, 2015, in Mandalay Bay.

It’s Valentine’s Day, where the celebration of love comes in a variety of flavors. After all, “Life is like a box of chocolates.” Saturday night’s Valentine’s chocolate was of a darker variety.

Marilyn Manson became Las Vegas’ dark sinister treat at House of Blues in Mandalay Bay for his “Hell Not Hallelujah Tour” adorned with white face paint, leather clothing and an eerie patriarchal, cross-decorated stage.

While Manson’s first band, Marilyn Manson and The Spooky Kids, was retired in 1992, there were plenty of spooky kids in attendance at his Valentine’s Night show. Face paint, corsets and Mohawks were a mainstay of his audience.

Even a pregnant nun made an appearance paying homage to “The Pale Emperor,” Manson’s latest album. Manson erupted onstage leading with “Deep Six,” his recently released single. His opening song set the tone for the 90-minute performance.

Compared to his last Las Vegas show in 2012, this was a revived performer who was more reminiscent of the ’90s Manson. His gestures, stage theatrics and signature guttural growl brought any tenured Manson fan back to day’s past.

His passionate lovemaking with the floor speakers, writhing on the ground, and shoving a light down the back of his pants was a Valentine’s loin check for the faint of heart. In addition to his bodily antics, Manson had a very engaging spoken demeanor, often addressing the crowd between songs.

“You guys were talking about death, right? Or was that is my head?” as he self-admittedly could not differentiate between the two. He also had the crowd chanting, “What do we love? What do we hate? We hate love, we love hate.”

After the performance of “Disposable Teens,” Manson casually greeted his Las Vegas audience, “Hey, Las Vegas, how you doing?” and introduced his band members. There are two newer members, Tyler Bates on guitar and Gil Sharone on drums, who joined the band in 2014.

Twiggy Ramirez, bass guitarist, has been a mainstay since the band’s early days in 1993, less a sabbatical from 2002-2008. There was an obvious synergy between Ramirez and the Pale Emperor. Manson was often interacting with him, slapping him on the forehead and even bottle-feeding him water.

Manson’s setlist was a culmination of songs spanning two decades, with the fan favorites being “Dope Show” and “Irresponsible Hate Anthem.” He also performed Depeche Mode’s “Personal Jesus” and The Eurythmics classic “Sweet Dreams,” which have been mainstays in his repertoire.

After his final song, the room became silent as Manson appeared to be inquiring from Ramirez whether there would be an encore. Ramirez would be making this decision with his bass guitar, gladiator-style: Would the neck be up or down? Finally, he motioned with the neck pointed up, and they returned for “Coma White.”

Manson’s performance was the antithesis of a coma as he moved beyond professional lulls of the last few years. It appears that he has once again become the Pale Emperor — and with a sold-out show, Las Vegas will be sure to welcome him back.

Melina Robinson is a Las Vegas-based freelance writer.

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