At his post-Valentine’s day show in Huntington, NY, Marilyn Manson started strong. Symphonic violins played as the show began, cut short with his grisly growl. There was a moment of anticipatory silence before he rocketed into “The Reflecting God,” and the crowd couldn’t get enough. This show, after all, had been very long awaited by New York Mansonites– the shock rocker’s last gig in New York landed him in the hospital after a large gun stage prop crushed his right leg, leading to the night’s subsequent rescheduling. But at the Paramount, he seemed to be good as new, strutting around with a vigor that distracted from his gleaming white boot cast. He was talkative, he was interacting, he was all good.
But then he kept talking and talking. He began cutting songs short and launching into rambling monologues that were difficult to follow. He mentioned the death of his parents, the #metoo movement, and something about drugs. There was one sentiment that broke through though, perhaps due to sheer repetition: “Tell me you love me.” And they did, over and over again, as huge fanatics are wont to do. Yet Manson became more and more agitated, eventually turning his back to the crowd until he got what he wanted. As time went on, he would even hold the fate of the show above their heads: “Here’s the way it goes. ‘I love you’: Songs. ‘Fuck you’: No songs.” His message was extremely mixed. He’d beg the crowd to cheer (or say “fuck you”) but then criticize the crowd for cheering for the wrong things, or in the wrong way. After about an hour and fifteen minutes of this, he dropped his microphone and walked offstage. The main lights went up, and the show was over.
Fans immediately took to Twitter and Instagram, documenting the deterioration and insisting on refunds. They also speculated about the root of the meltdown: some blamed Valentines Day blues, while others said it could be a result of pain medication after his injury. A few pointed at the recent Florida shooting, saying that the tragedy could have evoked negative memories considering the widespread scapegoating of Manson after Columbine in 1999. But the outburst could have also been a response to the plethora of misfortune Manson has suffered in the past year: his father passed away in July, and in October, Manson’s former bandmate and close friend Twiggy Ramirez (Jeordie White) was accused of sexual assault, right after the band’s co-founder Daisy Berkowitz (Scott Putesky) succumbed to colon cancer.
The fans are right, they should get a refund. What they attended wasn’t a concert, it was the breakdown of a lost, grieving man. Many people have flocked to the internet to shame him, call him a spoiled rock star, and pledge never to support him again. But Manson’s “Tell me you love me” wasn’t rockstar ego, it was a cry for help. Anyone who watches the videos of the whole night (the entirety is available in segments on Youtube) can tell that something is extremely wrong. The slurred words, the casual repetition of the fact that his parents are dead, the fact that he’s having trouble playing songs that the late Berkowitz and estranged Ramirez wrote and performed. Manson is all alone up there. And though no one should have to shell out money for this kind of show, we need to recognize these circumstances and hope that he gets the help he needs.