Considering all the bells and whistles involved, a Rob Zombie concert is a remarkably straightforward affair.
Between-song banter is kept to a minimum, save for the occasional acknowledgement of past visits to the Saltair and West Valley City’s Usana Amphitheatre. Guitar and drum solos are shorter than many arena-sized bands deliver. And the songs come at the audience fast and furious, groove-filled hit after groove-filled hit.
Of course, those songs DO come accompanied by a ton of visual stimulation from pyrotechnics, video screens, towering robots and Zombie and his costumed cohorts themselves. Zombie comes from the Alice Cooper/KISS school of putting a lot of money into his stage show, and it works. A Rob Zombie show is a multi-media feast rooted in his comic-book and horror-flick obsessions, and it makes for a highly entertaining night, every time.
Monday night was no different as Zombie came through town on top of the “Twins of Evil” bill, headlining after an hour-long set by Marilyn Manson. On the surface, pairing the two theatrical rockers makes some sense, but listening to fans talk between sets, there didn’t seem to be a lot of crossover concert-goers; people seemed to be there either for Manson or Zombie, and were happy to share their opinion on which was the weaker side of the bill.
Put me solidly in the Zombie camp. He and his band started explosively with “Jesus Frankenstein,” “Super Beast” and “Demon Speeding,” setting a breakneck pace that never let up. His band is led by the remarkable guitarist John 5, and he lent new twists to the familiar Zombie riffs on songs that go back two decades.
“Living Dead Girl” is a throbbing beast of a tune, and Zombie followed it up with a White Zombie classic, “More Human Than Human,” during which Zombie jumped down into the pit in front of the stage. From there, it was nonstop aggression, but aggression full of serious hooks. Zombie basically makes stripper music for the zombie apocalypse, and as a result his tunes have more dance-worthy grooves than virtually any so-called “shock rocker” on the planet. “Mars Needs Women” drove that point home, as did “Sick Bubblegum” and “Pussy Liquor.”
Toward show’s end, Zombie started talking about the venue curfew, asking the audience if they were “worth the fines and penalties.” Naturally, the crowd’s roar convinced Zombie to keep going, into “Thunder Kiss ’65,” a John 5 solo that touched on Eddie Van Halen’s “Eruption” and The Munsters theme, as well as a cover of Alice Cooper’s “School’s Out.”
Marilyn Manson’s set had its moments, but didn’t have the same visual or musical appeal as Zombie. Strutting the stage through familiar old hits like “The Dope Show” and set-closing “Beautiful People,” as well as a lot of covers given a Manson twist (Eurythmics’ “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This),” Depeche Mode’s “Personal Jesus”), Manson still certainly has a lot of appeal for his fans; there were plenty of Manson t-shirts dotting the crowd.