[ATTENDED: July 27, 2016] Garbage
Back in the late 1990s, I loved Garbage. Their debut and 2.0 were two of my favorite albums of the era. I had the chance to meet and greet when I was living in Boston, but when I got to the store, the line was huge and they cut it short about ten people in front of me. But I did get to see them live. And I saw them live later in the year when they played in New York.
They took a few years off and I didn’t love their next album. Or the one after that. I liked them, but I wasn’t as blown away (which I suppose is natural). They released a new album last year and I liked it–it was a little less slick than those middle ones. And in the meantime, I’ve grown to appreciate those middle albums more–sure they are slicker, but there’s some good stuff on them.
So when I saw they were touring in the area, I thought it would be fun to see them again nearly twenty years later.
And man, was it ever.
When I saw them in 1998 I was really far from the stage. In fact, I seem to recall my concert companion in Boston was having a rough night that night making it a less than enjoyable show. And Roseland in NY is pretty cavernous so I know I didn’t get all that close for that one. But here, as they are no loner as huge as they were in 1998 (but there was still a good crowd), I was five people from the stage (and got some great photos).
I did not realize that Butch Vig was not with them for the tour (he is/was ill). I also didn’t realize that Eric Avery (original bassist for Jane’s Addiction) was the guy on bass (So I saw J.A. a few weeks ago and here was their bassist). But Duke Erikson was about five feet from me.
And of course, there was Shirley Manson.
I was a little concerned at the outset because she seemed to be having a rough time. She kept covering and putting her finger in her ear. It looked like the music was too loud for her (and whose fault would that be?). She seemed kinda pissed and I though the show was going to be kind of unpleasant.
But it turned out that she was having some kind of technical problem with her earpiece. That was fixed after the third song and Shirley really got into it after that. (After the second song, it looked like she mooned the bassist (lifting up her dress) but I gather she was removing the remote for the sound system or something?).
I was pretty psyched that they opened with (and played a lot of) their debut album. “Supervixen” sounded amazing, and watching Duke play those chords right in front of me was very cool. The crowd went nuts for “Paranoid” and “Stupid Girl” of course.
Unfortunately, it was right after that song that someone in the front was causing trouble and security came over to break it up. Shirley (in her shockingly thick accent) told the audience that she was preaching tolerance, even if someone is being an asshole. But at the same time, if the guys in orange shirts are worried, then we are worried. So don’t be an asshole, be cool.
The slinky “Blood for Poppies” was fun and allowed Shirley to wander around the stage (and even off the stage) a few times. And then they slowed things down a lot for a “The Trick is to Keep Breathing,” a slow song I never thought they’d play. Shirley marched around the stage and really engaged with the audience on that one. For “My Lovers Box” she strapped on a guitar and played along with the guys.
She took a brief break to tell us that the band was watching the DNC before coming out. She said she didn’t want to talk politics but whatever your politics, know that if you support Garbage you must support equality for all–everyone should have the kind of freedom that the band shares. And so she dedicated “Sex is Not the Enemy” to the LGBT” community. It was a stomping song that we all danced to.
She introduced “Special” by saying how much Chrissie Hynde was her hero (and saying how much she also liked Kristin Kontrol’s voice). And then they played “Beloved Freak. I didn’t recognize the song (many of their songs sound quite different from the recorded version and it takes until a riff or lyrics comes in before you realize what it is). About 90 seconds in (before she got to the chorus) she stopped the song. She gave a long story about how she wanted us all to time travel back 90 seconds and pretend we hadn’t heard hat part. And then she said that her relative was in the audience and she promised that the show would be great, and she can’t believe she messed up so he’d have to pretend like that didn’t happen. So they started it agin. And right around the same place, she messed up again and stopped the song and said to forget it. She looked at a couple of people in the front row and said “Yo heard me do this song in sound check, right?”
So they just moved on to the moody “Even Though Our Love is Doomed” the first song they played from the new album. She told us that many of her friends had requested copies of the album before it came out and she sent them around and got ni reply. Not even a thanks. It was really the fans who responded to them and it was very important for them
Some loud mouthed moron behind me was shouting out “Why Do You Love Me” for most of the show (even when Shirley was talking). I so didn’t want them to play it just to spite him. But they did and it was awesome–it totally rocked after the two mellower songs. Now though, he’s just been encouraged to shout for more–as Todd Rundgren told the audience–they’re not a jukebox.
The band made some really cool sounds up there–many were obvious but some…who knew how they did it. Like the cool chugging sounds of “Control.” By this time Shirley was really into the show, dancing, holding the mike out for us to sing along to and really grooving.
“Blackout” is another song form the new album. It opened with some great rumbling bass lines (the bass sound was fantastic–as werea ll the instruments).
Shirley had made some great eye contact with the audience up to this point but after this song she took the time to do the most impressive thing I’ve seen a band do. She talked about a couple of members of the audience by name and how just as we had been watching the band for 20 yeas (well, I hadn’t), the band had been watching us as well. She singled out one woman who had been at all of their shows and seemed to always match what Shirley was wearing (pink suited them both). And then, in what was an amazing moment, she told a brief story about a girl who had been a fan of their for years–since she was a teenager. The girls’ father had recently written the band a private letter (via Facebook) telling the band how much their music had meant to this girl. Back when she was a teen and he felt she was unreachable, the girl connected with the band and her father was grateful for that. It was really touching–she practically cried while telling the story. And then she dedicated “Bleed Like Me’ to the girl’s dad. (And told her to tell him Shirley did that).
Then they played two fist pumping rioters: “Push It “and “Vow.” They slowed things down again for a quiet almost spooky opening for “Only Happy When It Rains” before really rocking out the end of the song.
She said that they always end their sets with “Cherry Lips” and it was a rousing version, with Shirley again walking into the crowds at the sides of the stage to engage everyone (the jerk behind me, having gotten “Why Do You Love Me” had now moved on to shouting “You Look So Fine” or “Milk” and I was happy he was denied those. During “Cherry Lips,” Shirley made eye contact with the girl standing in front of me who was wearing rabbit ears (for whatever reason). Shirley looked at her, smiled, made rabbit ears with her fingers and the girl nearly passed out with glee. It was a pretty cool moment to witness. (You can see the ears in the picture up above).
The band went off for an encore break and came back with, strangely to me, the first two songs of their new album. The first song is a moody piece, not an encore leader by any means, although the next song is pretty excellent (and their first single from the record). It was a surprising encore choice, given how many other songs the could have played (“Queer” it really surprised they didn’t play it, or yes, “Milk” or “When I Grow Up” “Breaking Up the Girl,” or “Androgyny”). Although, it does make sense that they would play some more form their recent album. But then it true concert fashion, they ended with a big rocker, the sultry “#1 Crush.”
It’s pretty cool that they didn’t play a bunch of likely songs and the show was still awesome.
I checked the setlist from the shows back in 1998 and I see that the band played longer last night than they did 20 years ago–about two hours of great entertainment. That’s pretty awesome.
(Bold songs were played only once)
|Dumb||Not My Idea|| I Think I’m Paranoid
||I Think I’m Paranoid|| Stupid Girl
||Special|| Automatic Systematic Habit
|Fix Me Now||My Lovers Box|| Blood for Poppies
|My Lovers Box||Hammering in My Head|| The Trick is to Keep Breathing
|Hammering in My Head||Thirteen|| My Lovers Box
|| Sex is Not the Enemy
|Stupid Girl||Vow|| Special
|Temptation Waits||Stupid Girl|| Beloved Freak [aborted]
|Trip My Wire
||Wicked Ways|| Beloved Freak [take two, aborted]
|Vow||Queer|| Even Though Our Love is Doomed
||Push It|| Why Do You Love Me
|I Think I’m Paranoid
||Only Happy When It Rains||Control|
|When I Grow Up
||You Look So Fine||Blackout|
|Only Happy When it Rains||encore|| Bleed Like Me
||Supernatural|| Push It
|Girl Don’t Come||When I Grow Up
||Only Happy When It Rains|
|You Look So Fine|| Cherry Lips (Go Baby Go)