Less than a week ago, officials in Richmond, Va., banned Marilyn Manson from performing a concert in the conservative burg on May 10. But after a two-hour, closed-door meeting with the city attorney Monday night, the Richmond City Council relented, agreeing that they can't legally prevent the Satan-loving band from playing.
It was obviously a painful decision. "Citizens in the Richmond metropolitan area have expressed serious concern about the scheduled performance...The Richmond City Council and the city administration share their concerns," the council said in a statment.
"Despite these concerns, based upon the advice of the city attorney, the city of Richmond will allow the concert to go on as planned. The city has received assurances from the band's representatives that the group will abide by all applicable laws."
Not that Richmond officials had much choice. The Virginia chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union had threatened to file suit last week, saying that by banning the popular, but controversial rockers, the city was violating the First Amendment. "We're obviously delighted that they changed their minds," Kent Willis, executive director of the local ACLU, told the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
When he originally canceled the show last week, City Manager Robert Bobb said the band, whose latest album is titled Antichrist Superstar, did not conform to community standards. Bobb said Manson concerts feature Satanic rituals, lewd sex acts, and songs about murder, rape and self-mutilation. Bobb also said he had received more than 100 calls or notes supporting his decision.
Despite widespread and vocal public outcry, there is no documented evidence of illicit activity by the band, said Manson's management company. "Marilyn Manson's 'Dead to the World' tour has elicited a continuing round of protest from certain political pressure groups, religious organizations and concerned politicians," their statement said.
"Since the tour began on October 3, 1996, in no way have Marilyn Manson performed, participated in or encouraged any acts of child abuse, sex (simulated or real), cruelty to animals or any other illegal activity onstage."
Bobb said the band still isn't welcome and its fans, known as Spooky Kids, will be closely watched by city cops.
Manson's show in Charlotte, South Carolina, was canceled after local lawmakers pressured the band and promoters. Last week, New Jersey's Meadowland's arena said the group could not perform as part of Ozzfest '97--a festival dedicated to former right-wing whipping boy, Ozzy Osbourne. The band has also been picketed in Massachusetts, Nebraska, Texas, West Virginia, North Carolina, Wisconsin, Arkansas and New York.