Marilyn Manson | photo by Morgan Smith |

Stepping back from the raw, deliberate provocation of his earlier work, Marilyn Manson has decidedly mellowed out as the years have gone by. With shock-rock impropriety failing to command the limelight it once did (since nothing’s shocking anymore, really), prospects have leveled off for the aging rockers. Touring on the Hell Not Hallelujah tour in support of their ninth studio album, The Pale Emperor, Manson’s antihero shocked the Electric Factory by not shocking – just delivering a worthwhile performance to the fans before him.

Seemingly at capacity, the greyscale sea of aging goths and rivetheads started the night by taking in the sounds of Unlocking The Truth, Manson’s opening act.  Novelty aside (7th-grade African-American metalheads from Brooklyn?), the boys held their own and, although mistakes were made, were pretty impressive performers for their age. Major props to any 13 year old with the confidence to berate a cadre of large, unfriendly looking adults to form a mosh pit.

Manson didn’t do anything very shocking in Philadelphia. And although there wasn’t much “spectacle” to the show, aside from Manson humping a few guitar amps and some intense lighting, he kept his audience captivated from beginning to end. Singing songs from the new record, as well as some classics such as “The Beautiful People” and his cover of  “Sweet Dreams,” Manson gave himself to the Electric Factory and was received with open arms.

As we were waiting for Manson to grace the stage, one group of die hard fans informed me that it was their 35th Manson show; they left that night in awe and ready for number 36.