Marilyn Manson & Smashing Pumpkins

(Originally Published on Tune Collective)

The 90’s Are Alive Once More As Two Alternative Titans Rock The Beaches of Miami – Review of the Smashing Pumpkins and Marilyn Manson concert at the Bayfront Park Amphitheater in Miami Beach, FL

Story and Photos by: Gleb Barabanov

If you had told me as recently as two years ago that Marilyn Manson and the Smashing Pumpkins were going to be touring together as co-headliners, I would have called you crazy and proceeded to back away slowly. While they both had wildly successful careers and worked together in the 90’s, the similarities ended there, with the two musicians songs (and fan-bases) generally being as different as night and day. Add to that the alleged feud involving Billy Corgan’s disapproval of Manson’s ex Rose McGowan and Manson’s subsequent comments that Charlie Brown shirts should be sold at the merch booth of Smashing Pumpkins concerts, resulting in few people ever expecting the two bands to ever share the same stage again. But despite their differences, the old friends decided to bury the hatchet and do just that, reuniting for The End Times Tour, a 90’s nostalgia trip that recently made a stop at Miami’s beautiful BayFront Park Amphitheater.

Arriving at the packed venue, it was pretty easy to tell who was there for which band. The Manson fans were dressed to the nines, rocking leather pants, harlequin high heels, combat boots, polychromatic hair dye, and enough fishnets and eyeliner to keep a Hot Topic stocked for decades. The Pumpkins crowd, besides being an average of 5 years older, was garbed much more conservatively, usually sticking to jeans and a concert tour shirt, and watching the two groups intermingle was almost as much fun as watching the bands themselves.

Marilyn Manson, dressed in leather and white make up, began first, breaking into “Deep Six”, the single off of his newest album, The Pale Emperor. The stage, decorated with stained glass style effigies of Manson and ethereal lighting, progressively got more complex as the show went on, with changing backdrops and background dancers. After blasting through early 2000’s hits ”Disposable Teens” and “mOBSCENE” and the more recent “No Reflection” and “Third Day of a Seven Day Binge”, the singer donned stilts for the crowd favorite cover of “Sweet Dreams”, stalking around the stage as he belted out the lyrics. Although the show was very tightly choreographed, there were times where the crowd knew the words to the songs better than Manson himself did, letting the screaming horde fill in the verses as he flounced around the stage.

While first half of the show was a showcase of more recent songs from the current millennium, the second was all fan-service, featuring songs from his first two, most popular albums. After a riveting rendition of “Angel with the Scabbed Wings”, he teased the crowd to “make it personal”, inviting concert-goers to throw their sweaty bras and panties on the stage before launching into “Personal Jesus”, “Dope Show” and “Rock is Dead”, complete with cross-shaped foil confetti cannons, a pulpit and a trademark bible burning. Asking if the crowd wanted to hear a “Florida grown” song, the singer acknowledged his hometown before kicking off “Lunchbox”, a cut from his first album, which was written while the band was still based in South Florida. After finishing “Antichrist Superstar” and smash hit “The Beautiful People”, he finished his set out with traditional closer “Coma White”, which served as a good sonic transition from Manson’s jagged industrial brand of rock to Corgan’s melodic melancholy soundscapes.

After a 20 minute set-change, during which the younger crowd started filing out and the older crowd took their place, the stage was a much different sight than Manson’s self indulgent décor. Simple white strips of cloth were hung behind the band in a set pattern and surrounded with lights, resulting in a three dimensional kaleidoscope of color surrounding the group as they played. Around 9.30, the house lights went back off and Billy came on stage with his group. After waving to the crowd, the Pumpkins blasted off with a three-song combination of their most well known songs, “Cherub Rock”, “Bullet with the Butterfly Wings” and “Tonight, Tonight”.

While Manson’s set was ostentatious and flamboyant, with multiple costume changes, Corgan cut through the theatrics and focused on making the band sound as tight as possible, thanks in no small part to the recent re-joining of original drummer Jimmy Chamberlin. Having another original member in the fold has made the band sound better than they have in the last 6 years, and it really showed as the group jammed through hits such as ”Ava Adore” and “Zero”, as well as a modicum of more recent material from their latest album, “Monuments to an Elegy”. Billy poked fun at the slightly lukewarm reception to the newer songs, telling the people that stood up for the acoustic version of “Disarm” to sit back down, “[you] can’t stand up now just because it’s a song you know.” After a slightly-out-of-place even for this crowd Fleetwood Mac cover and an excellent rendition of “1979”, Corgan asked the audience if they had any requests before immediately joking that “I don’t do requests, I play what I want to play”, and embarking on a version of “Thru the Eyes of Ruby”, which prior to this tour hasn’t been played live since 2012 and coincidentally enough, the only song I would have requested. The band closed the night with a stunning rendition of “United States” before disappearing backstage, unfortunately not playing an encore due to time constraints. But even without a last song to gratify the crowd, everyone appeared satisfied leaving the show, their own personal favorite song seemingly played, and for one night, the dream of the 90’s was alive in Miami.