Twins of evil : the second coming tour  rob zombie & Marilyn Manson - keybank pavillion- pittsburgh, pa - 7.25.18

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    They said it couldn’t happen again!!  What more can you say about these guys? I know I cover quite a bit of “underground” metal and punk content and whatnot, so a mainstream arena metal from the 90’s hay-day might seem a little lame and jaded. But, when you bring the thunder sometimes you get lost in the storm. I don’t know what that means but what I'm saying is, if you’re gonna do an arena rock show, this is how you fucking do it.

    I’ll always be a Zombie & Manson fan boy, so I’m very forgiving of either of the two. Although, I feel Manson is the one who needs more forgiving, these days, but well get to that later. Both of their early records were some of the first I’ve ever bought as a child, so they’ve stuck with me and I’ve stuck with them throughout their careers from then til now. So, I’ve seen them both individually over 10 times at this point, and I have to say I’ve never grown bored of either one. They keep their shows and new content ever changing and interesting (Manon’s new stuff is easily the best he’s put out in decades), and this was no exception. In fact, I have to say this was some of the best I’ve ever seen from either of the two. 

    Coming fresh outta hell and a little less fresh off the drama of the first Twins of Evil go around 5 years or so ago, Manson and the Zombie crew seem to have buried the hatchet, surprisingly NOT into each other’s heads, but in the Californian desert under the Helter Skelter-ing sun.  The gruesome twosome have reunited for what is undoubtedly the biggest metal tour of the summer, and for good reason. Both Zombie and Manson delivered some of the biggest and best displays of shock rock theater ever seen by a crowd of Pittsburgh, Transylvania concert goers. In the modern world so devoid of classic theatrical rock n roll, these guys (along with Ghost, now) are the youngest ones carrying the torch. Cooper wont be around forever, unfortunately. Kiss lost their shine quite some time ago. This is about as close to classic crock n roll theater as we’re gonna get, and for our sake I hope they keep that undying torch lit, and set this ever jaded world ablaze.

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    Mr. Manson decided to grace us with his presence on time, crawling out on stage un-drunk and un-drugged up (seemingly.. which can go either way, ya really never know), in just about broad daylight. We know that’s hard for the Mechanical Animal himself and we appreciate him for it. Opening with the hardcore punk inspired opening track from his universally praised and reviled classic, Antichrist Superstar, The Irresponsible Hate Anthem woke Pittsburgh the fuck up. Manson and his band of goth boy superstars came out swinging, quite literally. The were definitely not born with enough middle fingers, but the heaviness and intensity of this tune made up for the difference. And Manson sounded better than ever as he kept the Antichrist vibes flowing into Angel With the Scabbed wings, another heavy hitter from his back catalog. It’s clear that Manson isn’t fucking around here, and as anyone that has seen him before knows he is very capable of fucking around; but not on this tour. Semi-sober and crushing the classic heavy tunes just like he’s always done, making sure that the crowd knows who is in fact, the living and breathing master of shock rock, The Antichrist Superstar. Also, maybe the pressure of having such a phenom as Rob Zombie follow, he was not about to look bad. Despite the negative tendencies and drama that seem to pollute Mansons credibility, he has always been a brilliant artist that knows what the fuck he’s doing. He solidifies his presence even more has he rolls into the following “soft song,” he jokes, Holywood’s very own, Disposable Teens. Yet another fist-in-the-air punk rock anthem Manson screams his way through, rolling around on the stage floor and whirling in every direction known to mankind, he’s ripping it up. 

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    The next two songs came of his 2003 record, The Golden Age of Grotesque. Once again, keeping the crowd fully energized posing the question, can we handle the new shit? We could, as he trudged his way through that rebellious anthem, only to incite a riotous mosh pit for the next tune, mOBSCENE. And it was just that, a fuckin obscene mob scene, and he thanked us for it. “I like you guys, he confesses. There’s tits. There’s fighting. Good job.” Anything to make you proud, father Manson. There is a brief break as an ominously lighted podium was set center stage, and the backdrop was changed to a photo of the man himself. Immediately upon seeing the podium, my mind got ready for the chants that ensue Antichrist Superstar, but throwing curve balls as he does, he’s poses, “You say God…” Time for a new song, Say10, fresh off this year’s Heaven Upside Down. Slowing the vibe down just a little bit, this song has plenty of momentum and seemed to be a crowd favorite. Especially for a new song, that is no small feet to have an arena full of fans chanting the chorus. It was very cool, but not as cool as the feathered diva coat he donned for the classic, The Dope Show. Making sure everyone had their dancing boots on as the groove hit like a fat line of blow, and the backdrop changed to purely DRUGS. He hits this classic song right every time, and this was no exception. And just as if not to put us in too good of a mood, Manson got ominous with his Sweet Dreams cover, obviously another crowd favorite. Keeping the dark vibe going, he makes another appearance in a punk leather jacket posing the question, would you kill for me? Kill4Me, another single off the new album, sounded right up there with the best of his set. A truly great song with nasty little hook that jus comes to life when played live. He, along with his alway tight band, is really crushing it today. One after the other with very little time in-between for Manson, which is also a little different for him. As if to say wake the fuck up after all those slow songs, we get TWO MORE from Antichrist Superstar, the always riotous title track, and the epic crowd pleaser, old faithful, The Beautiful People. The signature podium was back this time for Antichrist, powering his way through the inevitable fist in the air chorus. The band pulled together a great groovy rock vibe with a crushing industrial edge that played through the whole show really powerfully, but for this one especially. Finally, Manson equipped with his military hat and drum sticks, starts banging out the intro to Beautiful People on his bassists Juan Alderete’s strings. And like a good murder scene, we all know how that ends. As a Manson veteran, I’m well aware and expecting that to be the last song of the night for him, only to be beyond pleasantly surprised as the lights go down and he returns in a hooded black cloak with a bundle of black balloons. 

    Dressed like a doom-metal Pennywise, I can only wonder what song he’s going to do. Maybe, Coma White? Think not. Try his newly released cover of the classic vampire flick Lost Boy’s theme, Cry Little Sister. And, WOW. To my surprise, this was the highlight of his already immaculate set. The dark atmosphere provided with this song played against his meaning vocals was like no other Manson I’ve seen live before. It was evil, rocking, and passionate, as he threw himself into the pit amongst his rabid fans, ending it on one hell of a note. As we all know with him, the show could go either way. He definitely has is ups and downs, but this was undeniably an up. Or an upside-down, if you’re talkin’ bout Heaven. Color me impressed, Mr. Manson. I hope to see you doing well again very soon. We need ya, buddy. Thank you for all you’ve done. But, like any good slasher flick, the first kill is just a warm up. Rob goddamn motherfuckin’ Zombie is up next. 

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    Always a force to be reckoned with, and unlike our pal Manson, he literally never disappoints. Of all the shows I’ve seen, he seems to just get fucking better, actually. Last night was not an exception even for a split second. Immediately from the power move he pulls out opening with a deep cut (and actually my favorite song from Hillbilly Deluxe, so, thanks for that Rob. Thank you very, very much), MEET THE CREEPER. The Zombie band always hits the stage with one goddamn speed and stays at that speed relentlessly the whole goddamn time: goddamn fast. Ripping their way through first album classic into the next, Superbeast, through the fringe and flames; they are, as always, better than ever. Get ready for a rock n roll show, ladies and gentlemen, because like it or not, Mr. Zombie is gonna give it to you. In all their fast-paced, roundhouse-kicking, hair-flailing, corpse-painted glory, this is the essential heavy metal live experience. And it’s just about to get sexy as they hop into their spaceship and announce “Well, Everybody’s Fucking in a UFO.” And just when you thought that heavy metal couldn’t get sexy! It does just that, provided with some of the best dance moves I’ve seen out of Rob in his entire career, this new song is an instant live classic. It gets the crowd going but its not until Zombie asks the crowd if we are ready to party, rhetorical question; suppose. Because it never gets crazier and sexier than the next tune, the almighty, Living Dead Girl. Grindy and groovy and gruesome, he rips through this one and sounds just as good as it ever did. The coolest thing about a Zombie show is, in a very Cooper / theater-esque way, every song is its own thing. The lighting completely changes as well as the insane subliminal messages and images pumped through the video screen. Every song is a different experience, keeping the crowd engaged and having fun, as they work their asses off to make sure of it up there. Another set change occurs for a new song, demanding us to GET HIGH. As John 5’s 4th guitar of the night lights up, they crush this quick heavy hitting tune, another instant live classic for the Zombie crew. Digging back into 2013’s Venomous Rat Regeneration Vender (still has my vote for best Zombie album title), Dead City Radio is a dancing rock anthem that has a cool edge to it live. But don’t get too comfortable, Zombie demand us on our feet and hope we brought our jumping legs for More Human Than Human. The ‘ol reliable crowd pleaser absolutely never fails as Zombie reminds us what a truly great song writer he’s always been, even before he was the behemoth that is Rob Zombie. All those older White Zombie songs are some of the most inspiring and unique rock n roll songs ever written, and played live with his always amazing new band, they even sound better. The signature Hellbilly robot even made an appearance for this one, and wouldn’t be a complete zombie experience without it. 

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    Always pleasing fans with the hits, he dips into a bit of an obscure track, back to the Rat Vendor, with Ging Gang Gong De Do Gong De Laga Raga.. easy enough, right? A very interestingly arranged and almost stupidly catchy; Zombie really knows how to pick a setlist. And he’ll never stop… Never Gonna Stop, a Zombie classic at this point, was up next. Contrasting that high octane metal fest with a track from the same Sinister Urge record, House of 1000 Corpses. This has always been one of my favorite Zombie live experiences, and this time was no exception. Slowing down the vibe and speeding up the horror, the bind grinds and stops there way through the devilish blues metal hook, as the man himself growls and howls his way through the gruesome lyrics matched with even more gruesome scenes projected on the screens in the back. Blood, guts, gore, and boobs, as always, Zombie shows never fail to push the boundaries of an arena rock show. And what more can ya really ask for?

      Now, having never seen Zombie before John 5 was knighted as axe master, I know no differently than his solo breaking up the set. And I’m goddamn thankful that he’s there and they give him a solo every show. A vital member of Rob Zombie at this point (John has even gone on record saying RZ is like the brother he’s never had), John expands the boundaries of the band with his unique talent and incredible songwriting abilities. Not only can he fucking shred and do the absolute craziest shit on guitar that goes way over my head, he can humble himself with a few simple chords and write a killer song, too. And that balance as a songwriter is important and it works. That being said, his solo is no different. Rather than a self indulgent pretentious showcase of talent, Zombie makes the John 5 solo an event. Red pentagrams fill the screens, inverted crosses, 666.. even complete with a triple life sized cartoonish Satan himself stalking the stage behind a black veiled J5 and his telecaster battle axe. Ripping, roaring, shredding, and killing the solo without missing a single beat (literally), as Rob Zombie, instead of sipping some tea and breezing back stage; runs through the entire crowd, even making his way to the lawn, and back, proving to be the hard working rock star entity he’s known to be. And we’re thankful for it. Only when he returns to the of course break into his oldest hit.. you know what year it is. Thunderkiss ’65, baby. And its a classic for a reason. No matter how many times you hear it or see it played live, the groove and energy in that tune is simply undeniable, and works like a charm every damn time. No wonder he never gets sick of playing it live, the feedback from the crowd is unreal. And as any Zombie fan could predict, Dragula is up next, closing the show. But, the Twins of Evil are known for their shock tactics, and we are thrown a delightful curve ball as Ziombie himself asks, “how could the show get any better?” “I’ll help you with that shit.,” MANSON exclaims as he emerges from the shadows. 

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    Personally, as a life long fan of these two, seeing them together onstage jamming was one of the most important concert moments of my life. If not the most important. It’s fucking up there though, man. Especially coming off of their last Twins of Evil run, we all know how that one ended… Frankly, most of us, myself included, were surprised enough to hear of this tour ever happening again; let alone go so unbelievably well. As they ripped into Helter Skelter by The Beatles, the two performed a deviloush duet that would be approved by Charlie himself. Projections of his face and pentagrams flew freely like haunting spirits through the venue, providing a true spooky moment. Zombie. Manson. And, uh, Manson. All at once is quite the assault on your morals and senses, but hey, I’m the last person on Earth or in Hell that’s complaining. Once Marilyn Manosn makes his final exit, fittingly as follows, is complete blackness. 

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    Mr. Zombie, the brilliant visionary that he his plays a trailer for his next film, Three From Hell, the long awaited sequel to the almighty Devil’s Rejects. Be it shameless self-promotion or not, hey, you’re at his show, aren’t ya? And watching a trailer with 15 thousand other people is a pretty rad experience, and definitely not one to be forgot. Judging by the crowd, they’re pretty stoked for the release. Sign me the fuck up. Only then does the Zombie party wrap things up with their signature moves for the 90’s ultra-hit, Dragula. 

    After the always classy and professional Zombie band bows and thanks the crowd, the band exits, and we can only hope for the Twins of Evil Part III (3-D, perhaps?). I may have failed at a corny horror pun there, but that’s all I got. This show left a huge impression on me, as far as arena shows go, this is about as great as it gets. Definitely do not miss this if it comes to your city. And be on the lookout from both The Twins of Evil and the Three From Hell.