There was a time when Marilyn Manson, the self-proclaimed Anti-Christ Superstar, was considered the end-all, be-all of rock outrageousness. No one would ever be more profane, more poisonous to the youth of America than the lanky rocker with the religion-skewering lyrics, drug-snorting rep and Nazi-referencing stage shows. The year was 1998, the height of his powers, the height of his fame.
So what happened? Well, time happened. It's not that anyone with Manson's shock power came along to replace him. It's not that the enraged right wing politicians finally put him in his place. It's just that we all got kind of bored with Manson. We moved on. A few of his songs held the ear - The Dope Show, a cover of Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This) - but most of them didn't. Lesson learned: Rock rebellion works better when you can sing along to it - just ask Green Day.
Manson, now 38, is touring behind a new album, Eat Me Drink Me. To hype the disc, he shot a naughty video with young starlet/girlfriend Evan Rachel Wood. He's also filming a trippy Lewis Carroll movie. I have a feeling he'll show nasty footage from both at his show. But the response will be different now. Whether he knows it or not, Manson, touring with the speed metalists in Slayer, is a nostalgia act now, and his followers, all older, wiser, will be in a mood to smile and party rather than rage against the machine. The show might be fun, but rest assured, it won't be dangerous.
Marilyn Manson, with Slayer and Bleeding Through, performs at 6 p.m. Friday at Ford Amphitheatre, Tampa. $27.50-$55. (813) 740-2446.