Garbage - Live At The Greek: Review
Tue, 15 Dec 2015 12:06:18
(October 8th 2015. Los Angeles, CA) On a clear warm night at LA's iconic Greek Theatre, beloved band Garbage took the stage for their highly anticipated 20 Years Queer tour celebrating the anniversary of their 1995 debut self-titled album that ushered in a new style of pop music. Loyal fans from the past 20 years filled the outdoor theater to experience the band's singular sound. In a show plagued by production mishaps and glitches (at no fault of the band), Duke Erikson, Steve Marker, Butch Vig, and Scottish songstress Shirley Manson played though their entire first album and spoke to the audience with a true gratitude and genuine tone that made the entire performance feel incredibly authentic and unique.
A white curtain hung shielding the stage as roadies checked sound before the show. Lights lowered in the theater and as the crowd shouted with glee the curtain became a film screen. Original handheld footage from the band's start intermingled with clips of Princess Diana, Bill Gates, some talk about a new thing called the Internet and other events from the year 1995 that perfectly put into scope the world that existed when Garbage's beautifully demented new version of pop took over the radio. As the screen went blank, the band walked out and began playing b-side song "Subhuman" from behind it. Their silhouettes played through the song and Manson's fluid movements paired with her deep vocals, commanding, "Burn down all your idols," created an artistic scene.
When the second song, "Supervixen" began playing and the curtain remained firmly in place, it seemed like something might be wrong. As the band played on, a man in black came out from backstage and tore down the veil as fans in front of the stage gave a scream of fear/delight. Dressed in a short pink dress with stylish chopped pink hair and a pink boa wrapped around her mic stand (all in honor of the celebrated album's cover art) Manson looked as vibrant and impressive as ever. It's hard to tell what is planned and what is off the cuff from the audience viewpoint, but after playing fan favorite, "Queer" Manson deemed the "kabuki theater" curtain drop mishap a Spinal Tap moment through candid laughs. "I can't begin to tell you how many Spinal Tap moments we've had over our 20 years," Manson joked. Noting that she could see their poor tour manager with his head in his hands backstage she laughed, "You can't expect s***." The crowd cheered with utter joy and support.
Launching into one of their most famous songs, "Only Happy When It Rains" with the original music video playing on screens behind the band, each member could be seen continuing to struggle with sound and troublesome equipment. Guitarist, Duke Erikson, dressed in a priest's frock with a highlighted pink collar, was visibly frustrated as he tried to add the song's signature effects to no avail. Even with issues popping up, the song played tight and had the entire audience on their feet singing, jumping, and dancing to the classic tune.
After playing through "As Heaven is Wide" Manson brought the music to a halt to address painful feedback that was hindering her vocals. To allow time for the system to be rebooted and any remaining issues to be alleviated the band shook up the order of the set-list and played an acoustic cover. In a heartfelt introduction to Vic Chesnutt's, "Kick My Ass" Manson described what the musician, who she had toured with before joining Garbage, had been to her, "He taught me a lot about song writing, he taught me a lot about being truthful, he taught me a lot about laughing my f***ing ass off."
In the midst of disarray comes truly genuine moments. Rather than being a run of the mill show in which the band and the audience pretty much know what is going to happen next, songs adapted, new stories were shared, and laughs rang through the theater. A highlight of the night came when Manson decided she had told all her good stories and reached out to the band's drummer and famed producer, Butch Vig, for a memory from recording b-side song, "Trip My Wire." Vig commented on how b-sides were always finished in a hurry and the song was written and recorded in four hours late one night after a few drinks then sent to the record company the next morning to meet a deadline. "This one turned into kind of a fierce number," Vic concluded, "because basically, you don't want to f*** with Shirley M." The crowd erupted in knowing cheers.
The night was something special thanks to the issues that challenged the band. Manson frankly explained, "You're getting something unique and something that will never be replicated." 20 years after the band's formation, Garbage performs with an intensity and authenticity that continues to engage fans entranced by their distinctive sound. Manson demands attention with her full vibrant vocals and fluid movements that exude strength and musicality. The group spoke with incredible appreciation and sincere love for their listeners. It was as if, after 20 years of commitment, the band was renewing their vows with their fans on this tour. With old stories, new stories, hiccups and highlights, Garbage continues to entertain as masters of their craft for adoring fans who show endless gratitude in return.
—The ARTISTdirect Staff
Buy Garbage music on iTunes