Back in their respective days, they were both shocking.
Now, a couple generations later, Alice Cooper and Marilyn Manson play Stage AE and the most shocking thing on the North Shore this weekend is the trash from the Kenny Chesney concert.
The long-awaited Manson-Cooper Masters of Madness Tour is what it is -- a good nostalgic horror show, especially from the main master.
It was a weird one for Manson, who, as the opener Sunday, emerged in the light of day, an ungodly hour for vampires and antichrists. It was hot too, but he was rocking black leather, which he shed pretty quickly. Like Cher, he had a rack of costume changes -- white fur; black trenchcoat, fedora with red-laser shooting gloves; quasi-Nazi uniform -- and toys, like his dagger mike, stilts, podium, fog and confetti blasts.
The sound hasn't changed at all. The instruments still blend together in a hard, bludgeoning industrial grind that was a lot more jarring in 1996. He did most of singing in a slow, druggy drawl, particularly on "The Dope Show" and " Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)." The one thing he doesn't do anymore, which was always pretty effective, is beat the microphone against his bare, scarred chest.
However, he did swing one and have it cut loose and connect with the side of a guy's head. Afterward, he said his head was "burning," but he wasn't "sue-happy." He said no less than four lawyers had come up to him with their business cards. Pointing at the motley crew of black-clad fans around him, he said, "Do you believe there are four people here who passed the bar?!"
As for Manson, the whole act is a bit of a nightmare now, not necessarily in the best way, but people were into it, and you could feel the aggression pick up as the set went on, with driving songs like "Personal Jesus" and "Beautiful People."
Alice Cooper and company came out under the supermoon with the stage raining sparks, and kicked in with the kind of rock 'n' roll swagger that's completely foreign to Manson's crew.
On this tour, the 65-year-old Cooper has the task of keeping up with a disciple 21 years younger, but that's no problem for the original shock-rocker who has a killer band, the same menacing growl and a set of ageless songs: "No More Mr. Nice Guy," "Billion Dollar Babies," "Under My Wheels," on and on.
He has a guitar army in Tommy Henriksen, Ryan Roxie and Orianthi that has a lot to work with in his riff-heavy rockers. They got to jam out on "Dirty Diamonds" and explore the glam-rock textures of "Ballad of Dwight Fry," in the buildup to Alice getting beheaded.
Even if everything else didn't go right (which it did), you can't ever go wrong when you have "School's Out" and "I'm Eighteen" in your back pocket to whip out at the end.
"School's Out" was wild fun with streamers, bubbles, confetti and giant balloons flying while the band absolutely crushed the riff. I actually heard a youngish fan say to a friend, "That song brings you back to your Rock Band days."
First, he schooled Marilyn Manson, then brought him back out for the encore of "I'm Eighteen," which rocked with a vengeance and is now one of the top 10 best concert cell phone moments of the summer.
Scott Mervis: firstname.lastname@example.org; 412-263-2576. Twitter: @scottmervis_pg.