Jesus Frankenstein kicked things off in gloriously fun fashion, massive screens around the stage firing off retro-horror imagery, a multi-limbed skeletal structure looming ominously over the crowd in front of a gigantic iron man structure, before Rob Zombie was suddenly roaming the stage, appearing like a long-dead hobo sent back from the underworld by Lucifer himself to whip the audience back into shape.
The songs spewed forth with a pretty distinct template – pounding drums, chugging guitar riffage, snarling vocals assaulting the senses – but rather than feeling like a tired format, the band’s obvious enjoyment proved highly infectious, and they certainly knew how to put on a show. It’s telling that guitarist John5 and drummer Ginger Fish used to play for Marilyn Manson – both were given solo spots to shine, and throughout provided a dynamic thrust which was conspicuously lacking from the previous act. (You could imagine that they might have had something to prove, given that both have had publicised clashes with Manson. You also imagine that they’re feeling pretty smug about their life choices at the moment.)
The rendition of his previous band White Zombie’s More Human Than Human is as thumpingly excellent as you could hope for, its ascending slide guitar riff spectacularly rousing. Zombie bantered with the crowd throughout, good-natured and humorous as he split the audience in two for a none-too-subtle chant of “rock motherf**er” which presaged the straight-ahead stomp of *Sick Bubblegum, the singer still dancing on various podiums as he had throughout the set.
Given that Zombie is now a well established film director it’s no surprise that the show’s visuals were top-notch. Indeed, the grimy polymath at one stage mounted some sort of gigantic pneumatic dino-bot prop with marauded the stage, while a giant devil figure stalked John5 during his solo spot, other large-scale props appeared and the multiple screens displayed all manner of carefully assembled (mostly horror-indebted) imagery. Together with the band it provided for a grin-inducing assault on the senses.
“You want us to play old s*** that we didn’t even write? Do you realise how insulting that is?” joked Zombie as they teased singalong snippets of Metallica’s Enter Sandmanand Alice Cooper’s School’s Out – his ego not getting in the way of putting on an entertaining show – before the band launched gloriously into a blistering encore of Dragula, finishing off one of the most entertaining arena-rock performances imaginable with a flourish.