Marilyn Manson and The Smashing Pumpkins started the weekend with a bang in Chicago with a night of American rock.

Marilyn Manson was the first to take to the stage for this co-headlining show at Chicago’s FirstMerit Bank Pavilion at Northerly Island on a hot summer’s night. He certainly made a powerful entrance and his band hit the mark perfectly, with a combination of gritty guitars and a driving rhythm section. Marilyn is a strong showman with a definite flair for the dramatic and still looks to shock people, notably by setting fire to the bible towards the end of the set.

There were numerous highlights, but it was easy to pick out the crowd favorites. They went wild for the two covers of “Sweet Dreams”(which showcased Marilyn’s Circus stilt-walking abilities) and “Personal Jesus,” as well as his huge hit “The Beautiful People.” The whole audience appeared to lap up the energy and interaction with Marilyn, including those who seemed to be there primarily to see The Smashing Pumpkins. The interaction did not stop at the edge of the stage either, as Marilyn regularly came face to face with the front two rows, even to the point where he ended up with a burst lip from someone after he waded into the front of the audience.

Next up were Chicago’s own, The Smashing Pumpkins, who burst onto the stage with a trio of anthemic hits in “Cherub Rock,” “Bullet with Butterfly Wings,” and “Tonight Tonight.” Although only Billy Corgan remains from the original line-up, he was always, without a doubt, the heart and soul of the band. With him steering the ship, the new lineup did well to capture the essence of the original. This is not to take away from the fact that the band are clearly talented musicians, with particular kudos to guitarist, Jeff Schroeder who, during his solos, took the opportunity to cut loose and fully demonstrate what he was capable of. Of course, it’s a necessity to be a good guitarist if you’re going to stand in the shoes of James Iha and on the same stage as Billy Corgan who regularly showed his skill on the guitar, taking a number of solos throughout the night.

It’s fair to say, the band looked to be enjoying performing in the “City by the Lake” on a beautiful summer night, with the skyline to the left and the water lying to the right. It was also notable that it seemed like a happy Billy Corgan up on the stage, taking time at one point to thank the fans for supporting the band whilst, of course, making sure not to ‘pontificate.’

This was a truly diverse set which spanned much of the Smashing Pumpkins back catalogue. One of the highlight’s of the night had to be when Billy took to the stage with his acoustic guitar to perform Fleetwood Mac’s “Landslide.” His voice bringing the song to life perfectly as the audience gathered in the summer heat sang in unison about getting older too. Indeed, it seemed many of the fans in the arena were ‘lifers’ who had been with the Pumpkins from the beginning and they were not let down by their local heroes who can still put on a great show!

The Smashing Pumpkins
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Marilyn Manson
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FirstMerit Bank Pavilion at Northerly Island
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