Review: The Press-Telegram

Manson, Love Employ Jabs, Theatrics to Entertain
by ??, March 13, 1999

It’s the ultimate love-hate relationship. Courtney Love versus Marilyn “We Love Hate” Manson.

Do the two rock heavyweights actually hate each other, or have the banter and barbs that they have traded in the media been nothing more than a well-planned ploy to generate attention?

Either way, it has worked in piquing the interest of the public. The sell-out crowd at the Marilyn Manson/Hole concert at the Arrowhead Pond of Anaheim on Saturday seemed to be as interested in hearing what the parties were going to say as they were in the music. They weren’t disappointed. The night’s antics contained more jabs than Saturdays’ other main event: the Evander Holyfield-Lennox Lewis heavyweight title fight.

“We’re quitting the tour,” said Love, “Because we aren’t feeling feminine enough. I guess we’re pussies.”

Love was apparently responding to a comment made by Manson in the media a few days earlier that Love was a “graying old mother.”Love definitely appeared feminine enough. She looked very much like a fairy out of Shakespeare’s “Midsummer Night’s Dream,” in bare feet, glitter-filled blonde locks and a wispy, flowing dress, which she proceeded to tear parts of away as the night went on, eventually exposing herself to audience during the encore. She seemed to be genuinely happy at the show’s beginning, getting the crowd rocking, though Love appeared to grow melancholy as the show wore on.

Marilyn Manson’s futuristic look, however, looked like he would fit in a scene from “Blade Runner” wearing a leather thong and fishnet body suit, with the upper portion of his face painted a deep blue. His band’s signature brand of gothic metal had the building shaking and Manson’s undeniable charisma had the fans entranced. He took his opportunities to shoot back at Courtney Love, at one point asking the fans to “pray for Courtney Love’s plastic surgeon,” and dedicating a song “to the Marilyn Manson fans who had to put up with that crap before.” He later implored the gathering to chant “We hate Love! We love hate!”

Love, appearing quite intoxicated, looked at many times like she was going to pitch over into the throng gathered before her, finally taking a fall while jumping from one of the monitors situated at the front of the stage to another located a few feet away. She slipped and took what looked like a nasty fall, knocking over the microphone stand of bass player Melissa Auf Der Maur and cutting herself in the process. The fall took the collective breath of the crowd away for a moment, but Love continued to sing while lying on her back, eventually getting up to continue the set. Later, she remarked “Thank you Anaheim…the Tragic Kingdom…I bled for you.”

Love also provided the audience with plenty of food for thought, confiding that one song was “about the affair I had with Bush’s Gavin Rossdale while he was dating Gwen Stefani [of No Doubt], and later explained “Drew Barrymore and I both think that [Hole guitarist] Eric [Erlandson] was the best boyfriend we ever had, and we were both so mean to him.” The loudest cheer for Hole came when she procalimed, “This is the story of my life,” and the band launched into their hit “Celebrity Skin,” from the album of the same name. Their rendition of the other hit single, “Malibu” from the same album, was well-received and very well done. At the end of their encore, Love had a guitar brought out to give to a lucky female audience member. “Use it to become a rock star,” Love said, “It’s so easy!”

Through it all, Love’s voice held up, maintaining the tonal quality heard on Hole’s albums. Even at the points in the show when she appeared close to losing control of her motor skills, her voice shone through. Love, along with bandmates Auf Der Maur, Erlandson and drummer Patty Schemel, played with confidence and precision. Their stage show, while not nearly as showy as Manson’s, fit the pop-punk feel of Hole’s music.

Manson’s pyrotechnics and stage antics were on a entirely different level than Hole’s. Manson, with bride-to-be Rose McGowan watching from just nearby, appeared on stage strapped to a cross made of televisions which rose up from laying flat on the stage to an erect position. At one point he donned leg and arm stilts and a bizarre helmet which caused him to resemble a creature from the late Jim Henson’s “The Dark Crystal.” At another juncture in the show, while Manson was dressed in police garb, another person in a police uniform emerged from the rear of the stage with a mock shotgun and proceeded to “shoot” Manson, who had some sort of charge rigged under his shirt to make it appear that he had been shot.

For Manson, in contrast to Hole, it appeared that the spectacle of the stage show was more important than the music itself. He spent as much time exposing himself and placing his microphone in different areas of his anatomy as possible, much to the delight of the crowd. The highlight of Manson’s portion of the evening’s festivities was a blazing rendition of their hit “Dope Show,” While his band pretty much maintained their positions on the stage throughout the show, Manson ran the stage, doing what he could to excite the crowd and, apparently, himself.

While it seemed that Love and Manson tried dividing the fans into two camps, Hole fans versus Manson fans, it seemed that most of the capacity crowd was there to enjoy both acts, and did just so. They were treated to a night that cut across plenty of sonic terrain, from the acoustic pieces of Hole’s encore to the heaviest of Manson’s tunes, in addition to the verbal jabs. Love explained at one break between songs, while taking a drink of water, that playing was tiring because, “unlike some people, when I sing, I mean what I say.”

The two disparately different acts actually work well together, giving the fans a great overall show and definitely providing the fans with their money’s worth. It would appear, however, from the comments which Love made, that the Anaheim and Los Angeles fans will be the last to enjoy this tour. Stating that “this was it for the tour,” and that “the antichrist act is stale,” Love said Hole was quitting the tour after Sunday’s show at the Great Western Forum. Even if that holds to be true, it seems that Love and Manson will surely provide the media with sound bites aimed at each other for some time to come.

If Marilyn Manson and Hole really don’t hate each other, they have done a wonderful job or choreographing the media and getting the most attention for their time. The result of it all may have been plenty of grist for the mill for the media, but in all such situations, if the music doesn’t deliver, the listeners soon forget. In this Love-Hate relationship, the winners have been the fans.