Marilyn’s thong and throng

While Monica was telling Barbara how she revealed her underwear to Bill Clinton, thousands of screaming, fist-pumping Seattle teens—and several adults—were watching Marilyn Manson flash his own underwear (coincidentally, also a black thong). Since his latest record, Mechanical Animals, went platinum, the PVC-clad singer/exhibitionist has been busy flashing audiences on the “Beautiful Monsters/Rock Is Dead Tour” with “co-headliner” Hole.

Aside from the sight of male lingerie and lots of spectrally white, tattooed flesh, there were at least five costume changes and a spectacular 30-foot-or-so cross made of TVs. There were flashpots, pinwheel lights, and an enormous lightbulb marquee spelling out DRUGS; there was even a return engagement by the stage-sized American flag with Manson’s lightning-bolt symbol superimposed in the upper left corner. While you couldn’t fault the music—intense and enveloping from the opening “The Reflecting God” through the older, more metal-based anthems like “Get Your Gunn,” to the hit cover “Sweet Dreams Are Made of This” and a full repertoire of Mechanical Animals tracks—the theatrics are what made the show worth its $30 ticket price. It was bombastic, artificial, completely unspontaneous, and pure genius.

Marilyn Manson

KeyArena, Wednesday, March 3

In fact, the whole 90-minute show was scripted to within an inch of its life, including a faked assassination with Manson lying in a pool of bloody neon light. His preacher-fervent monologues between songs drew predictably wild responses from the assembled congregation, particularly when he lamented, “I said no to drugs, but they didn’t listen,” and when he cracked, “Did you have time to take a nap during Hole’s set?”

The audience really lost its restraint during “Coma White,” which turned out to be the final song of the evening. Manson went into patented spoiled-rock-star mode when a twisted microphone cord impeded his motion at a climactic moment. As a roadie scrambled to unknot the chords, Manson, exasperated, stalked the stage. Eventually, he ripped out the mike and threw it into the audience, then, after trying unsuccessfully to play the guitar—which was also imprisoned by its entwined chord—he proceeded to smash the instrument. Manson’s next target was the drum kit—and drummer Ginger Fish, who eventually joined him in the destruction. While the tour’s first stop had concluded with one of the band’s popular covers, Patti Smith’s “Rock ‘n’ Roll Nigger,” this show ended with two men dragging the limp singer off stage as the arena went dark and the crowd went apeshit.