Masters of Madness open USANA season with panache
West Valley City • Alice Cooper and Marilyn Manson brought their Masters of Madness tour to Utah on Tuesday night and opened up the outdoor concert season at the USANA Amphitheater with contrasting versions of shock rock.
Cooper, a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and a true original, manages to go right to the edge of the bad taste cliff without falling off. Manson, on the other hand, goes so far over that he's almost a parody of himself.
This was a different Alice Cooper concert. Though the show opened with a waterfall of fireworks and the star brought out a large snake, a blood-covered straitjacket and assorted props, it seemed more about the music than the theatrics.
That's not a criticism. Cooper is a charismatic performer who commanded the attention of the large appreciative audience with his stage presence alone. His new woman lead guitarist, Orianthi, led the band through the hits.
Cooper played classics such as "Dirty Diamonds," "Hey Stoopid," "No More Mr. Nice Guy," "Poison" and "I'll Bite Your Face Off" with aplomb.
But it wouldn't be an Alice Cooper show without some of the wild props. And that was especially true for "Feed My Frankenstein," when he was tied to a rack fueled by pyrotechnics.
And what would an Alice Cooper concert be without the famous guillotine trick, where he literally loses his head?
All this might sound a bit over the top. And it is. But it's all in good fun, which has made the 65-year-young Cooper a rock legend. By the time the familiar refrain of "School's Out" sounded and a stage filled with bubbles appeared, the crowd knew it had seen the "Full Alice." There was even a Pink Floyd cover song.
The show ended with Manson joining Cooper for "Eighteen."
Manson showed up in all his leather-clad, lipstick-wearing, microphone-throwing, crotch-grabbing glory with a set designed to offend, much to the delight of the audience.
His hourlong 12-song set included almost as many costume changes and nearly the same amount of red lipstick seen at Taylor Swift's concert Saturday at EnergySolutions Arena. After a very lackluster performance a year ago when he shared the USANA stage with Rob Zombie, Manson was on his game.
With a set that featured double crosses, a lighted sign that read "Drugs," Nazi references, a reprise of his tearing up a Book of Mormon from his first Salt Lake appearance in 1994, upside-down U.S. flags, flying snow and a giant high chair, there was plenty to offend.
And, if there is a point to all of this, Manson uses his show and his music to challenge social niceties and how we view religion and conventions.
This Catholic could have done without Manson tearing up the Book of Mormon during the aptly titled "Irresponsible Hate Anthem." The cynic in me wonders if he would have the guts to do the same thing to the Quran before a Muslim audience. I doubt it.
Manson used a carving knife microphone, threw beer cans and a cream pie into the audience and pranced around on stilts while singing the Eurythmics' "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)." He wore a feathered boa, a white fur creature of some sort, and slammed down mics and stands all over the stage.
My personal favorite song was "The Dope Show," but with a big bass driving the rhythm and more than a few obscenities, there was much to see.
Songs such as "Disposable Teens," "mOBSCENE," "This Is the New S-" and "Rock Is Dead" filled out the set.
Gregg Allman's daughter Layla Brooklyn Allman and her band, Picture Me Broken, opened the show with an energetic set that ended with a heavy version of Heart's classic "Crazy on You."
Masters of Madness
Featuring Alice Cooper and Marilyn Manson.
With • Layla Brooklyn Almann and her band, Picture Me Broken.
When • Reviewed Tuesday.
Where • USANA Amphitheatre, West Valley City.