Following in the footsteps (or, rather, lack thereof) of Dave Grohl, Marilyn Manson has joined the ranks of the rock’n’roll stars to perform wheelchair-bound with a broken leg. However, whatever charm there might have been to Manson’s show-must-go-on mentality at his first show back on tour in San Bernadino last night (following some show cancellations) was diffused by the singer’s decision to spice up his stage act in another way: by pretending to shoot into the audience with a dummy assault weapon.
His tour supporting his recent album Heaven Upside Down prominently featured gun imagery prior to Manson’s injury; indeed, it was one of the two large gun props that form the live show’s backdrop that crushed his leg in the first place, at a show in Manhattan on October 1. At the show at the Glen Helen Amphitheater in San Bernadino last night, the prop guns were back, along with a handheld fake semi-automatic rifle with a microphone strapped to it, which Manson mock-fired into the audience while being rolled around in a wheelchair.
The provocative new choreography came the night of the deadly shooting at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas which left 26 dead and 20 injured. Just under two years ago, San Bernadino itself was the site of a major mass shooting at the Inland Regional social-services center; 14 people were killed and more than 20 wounded.
Manson has had a storied history when it comes to being associated with mass shootings and gun imagery. The shooters in the 1999 Columbine school shooting were erroneously identified as Marilyn Manson fans, and the association, by Manson’s account in a recent interview with The Guardian (during which Manson also flicked the journalist’s balls), “destroyed my entire career at the time.” A subsequent music video for Manson’s single “The Fight Song,” released in 2000, was seen as a commentary on the Columbine controversy, and in 2000 and 2001, Manson went on a heavily-protested tour called Guns, God and Government.
Manson mimed firing into the crowd during a performance of the single “We Know Where You Fucking Live” from Heaven Upside Down, which features lyrics relating to gunfire: intermittent refrains like “I love the sound of shell hitting the ground, man” and “Fire away,” and a specific lyric about “It’s time to just kill this crowd/ And scream as fucking loud…” Watch footage of the performance below.