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First Night: Welcome to the Manson family

Marilyn Manson Brixton Academy London
FOR SOME reason Marilyn Manson decided not to stab himself last night. A multitude of garishly made up young Mansonites stood alongside older, more curious punters. They were so busy scanning the stage for skewered cats, bleeding babies and other Chamber of Horrors enactments, that they barely paid attention to the first song.

For the uninitiated, Marilyn Manson is the anti-Christ of middle America. Right wing groups have campaigned for years to get his shows banned, while American police have been known to film concerts in the hope of prosecuting him for acts of obscenity.. In other words, Manson - or rather Brian, as he is still known by his mother - has all the trappings of a successful pop star.

He recently admitted that it was easy to shock Americans because he said, "they are stupid," but last night it was clear that he had put some serious thought into what might rattle the Brits.

Manson had cast aside his rituals of mutilation in favour of a series of props and costumes that range from gloriously camp to utterly disarming. Inspired by the New Wave, Goth and Electro, Manson advocates a surprisingly tame sound that is at odds with his sharp, future aesthetic.With his androgynous appearance and obsession with celebrity, Marilyn Manson is recycling ideas dealt with add nauseam by the likes of David Bowie, Ozzy Osbourne and Alice Cooper. But they are delivered with utter panache.

Manson's final frock-swap shed a shocking new light on himself and his faithful followers. A series of Nazi-style flags bearing the Manson insignia fell from the scaffolding at the back of the stage and America's Beelzebub marched on in Gestapo uniform. Brixton had been transformed into Nuremberg and the slavering crowd chanted louder than ever.