Review: Rolling Stone Online

Marilyn Manson/Hole/Monster Magnet
by Marlene Goldman, March 15, 1999

A lone protestor bearing a “Jesus Saves” placard stood outside the Cow Palace, screaming, “Drug users, you’re going down,” to a bemused sell-out crowd. He wasn’t making any converts with the Manson fans, of course, many of whom were sporting ghoulish make-up, outlandish wigs, velvet capes, fishnets and the like. But for all the hoopla surrounding the Hole/Manson Beautiful Monsters bill, all was quite tame.

Manson, who concentrated on tracks from last year’s Mechanical Animals, was slowly raised on a giant cross to the start the show. Despite his parading and posturing, the only controversial moves on Manson’s part were some brief nudity (which offered some lucky ticket holders a glimpse of the Manson Family jewels) on a few songs like “Dope Show;” his ripping pages out of the Bible as he bounced around a faux pulpit during “Antichrist Superstar;” and the burning of the aforementioned crucifix during the band’s rendition of “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This).”

Between songs Manson changed into various costumes — including a cop uniform on the “Irresponsible Hate Anthem” — more than he addressed the audience. His main dissertation to his disciples was delivered before cracking into “I Don’t Like the Drugs (But the Drugs Like Me),” which he performed beneath a mammoth, lit marquee that just read “Drugs.” “I talked to God last night,” Manson screamed. “He said ‘Marilyn Manson, there’s a war on drugs.’ I said ‘God, I surrender.'” He went on to claim that God told him Jesus invented marijuana, cocaine and LSD, and if Christ was doing drugs, why can’t we? Despite the empty message behind his sermon, the crowd cheered on cue.

Manson closed the show with a rote dedication to the late satanist Anton LaVey and the grand rock drum finale of “The Beautiful People.” The crowd was left awaiting something cataclysmic, but there would be no encore.

Courtney Love, who walked offstage during the Portland show because of the crowd’s lack of enthusiasm, showed nothing but love for this San Francisco crowd. Nary a verbal dagger was thrown, mainly because she claimed someone had bet her $1,000 that she couldn’t get through a show without sassing off. She did take a few jabs at Manson’s reliance on pyrotechnics (Manson countered later with his own quip, “I feel sorry for all the grandmothers on this tour.”) Love also challenged a skinny goth girl who flipped her off, though it was more tease than threat.

In lieu of talking trash, Love and crew channeled all their rock energy into an invigorating set, determined to win over the Manson devotees. She hopped on top of the front row of monitors in cat-like fashion and stepped out toward the audience for several songs, all the while keeping her clothes on. Aside from hits like “Doll Parts,” “Miss World,” “Malibu” and “Celebrity Skin,” Hole soared with songs like “Use Once and Destroy,” and the set closing “Northern Lights,” which she prefaced as the saddest song she ever wrote, in memory of Kurt Cobain.

As has become customary, Love capped the show by giving one of her guitars to a girl in the audience, smiled, waved and, after a little good-natured shoving between band-mates, left the stage.

So who won the prize for Most Dangerous on this night of tamed beasts? Opening act Monster Magnet, which blasted out tracks from last year’s Powertrip with such deafening volume the kids ran en-masse to the earplug stand.