“We’ll have no more hijinks like we had last year,” Rob Zombie promised on Wednesday night at the DTE Energy Music Theatre in suburban Detroit — referencing the verbal fracas between him and Marilyn Manson during their 2012 Twins of Evil Tour.
But thanks to a new musical collaboration the duo likely found a way to make tongues wag yet again on the opening night of its Twins Of Evil: The Second Coming Tour.
The two shock-rockers got into it six years ago — ironically at the same venue — when Manson accused Zombie of deliberately cutting his set time the night before in Chicago and declaring “I’m going to beat his ass — twice, three f***ing times!” Zombie retaliated during his set, calling Manson “some punk-ass bitch.” The two ultimately settled their differences and carried on through the end of that year.
The start of Twins of Evil: The Second Coming Tour was, by contrast, all sweetness and light — or, given the musical tenor of their two shows, sweetness and heavy. Zombie even cheered Manson on from the side of the stage during the latter’s performance, while Manson referenced the Twins of Evil like he was getting paid for each mention. More importantly the two united during Zombie’s set, embracing before launching into the live debut of their just-released duet cover of the Beatles‘ “Helter Skelter” — complete with what could be considered a tribute to Charles Manson and his family, which famously cited the song as one of the inspirations for its August 1969 murder spree in California.
Provocative, yes. But then again, Zombie and Manson never claimed to be the Twins of Goodness or Justice or Political Correctness, did they?
“Helter Skelter” was certainly a surprise highlight of the night, but both acts (along with the opener, Montreal’s Deadly Apples, playing its first U.S. show in eight years) got the tour off to an exciting start. Most everything was solidly executed, from the staging to the sound mix, while both bands sounded mid-tour tight as they navigated their respective dynamics of industrial-strength, trigger-laced heavy rock.
Manson slipped on a bit before his scheduled start to build a little extra time into his 70-minute, 13-song portion of the show. Though daylight robbed the set of some of its macabre impact (we’re probably not supposed to see crew members toweling him off between songs), there was plenty of unapologetically Satanic glee housed in the likes of “Irresponsible Hate Anthem,” “Angel With the Scabbed Wings,” “Kill4Me” and “Say10.” But Manson’s theatrics were a bit scaled down this time, consigned to several jacket changes; There were no stilts or props, though he did mount a tall podium for “Antichrist Superstar.” “The Dope Show” and “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)” provided a crowd-pleasing one-two punch, though the show-ending “Cry Little Sister” was misplaced as a second encore, a pale finale after the anthemic singalong “The Beautiful People.”
If Manson kept his brand of evil dark, Zombie and his band were more like evil jesters, leading a buoyant 65 minutes of good-humored aural and visual hijinks. A dozen video boards showing vintage movie and burlesque footage and homages to dead horror film heroes cast a colorful hue across the stage as Zombie, in his glittery bell-bottoms, moved non-stop, even wading into the crowd during White Zombie’s “More Human Than Human” and walking across the concourse between the pavilion and lawn while John 5 played his extended solo before another White Zombie favorite, “Thunder Kiss ’65.” Giant space robot and Satan puppets danced around the stage, while Zombie took shots at the venue’s security guards and lamented Drake’s recent chart success, with more Top 10 singles on the Billboard Hot 100 than all rock acts combined.
“Good for him,” Zombie declared, “but it’s up to us to save the f***ing situation.”
For one night, at least, Zombie and Manson did just that, making a Big Rock Show feel like not only the right place to be, but also the best.