Better Than: Practicing your ’90’s nostalgia with Mark McGrath’s cruise-replacing tour.
Garbage had never played Terminal 5 before. “This feels like how a venue is supposed to feel,” proclaimed lead singer Shirley Manson before a sold-out show at the Hell’s Kitchen venue Friday night. With the way the band played and Manson prowled across the stage, it felt like a comfortable return rather than a first time. Then again, it’s not like the band, comprised of music industry Renaissance men and woman, are nubile musicians on their first tour. With the release of last year’s Not Your Kind of People, Garbage reaffirmed their presence in alternative music and capability to seamlessly intersect the streamlined rules of pop with the reckless playfulness of alternative.
The show, which happens to be towards the end of the final leg of their album’s promotional tour, feels no different. Beneath hazy blueish-purple lights, Garbage gave show as cleanly produced as their albums and as irresistibly catchy as their most pervasive hits. The strutting thump of Version 2.0 single “Push It” began a set as jam-packed as the venue with a steady stream of songs allowing few breaks. Even the breaks were electric interactions between the charming Manson and the audience as she offered hilarious commentary on barely noticeable technical difficulties, dating horror stories, and items audience members were hoisting into the air for her to notice, like a Scottish flag.
Balancing the old with the new, Garbage seem to have found a nice way of coexisting in both the past and the present. It was endearing to see pairs of parents with their children of a variety of ages sing enthusiastically in sync to everything like the high-energy, raucous performance of 2005’s “Why Do You Love Me,” which included a healthy amount of fist-pumping from fellow balcony members. Slowing things down, a seductive “#1 Crush” felt like a hauntingly smooth transition to the second half of their pre-encore set that ended with the beautiful final track off of their newest album, “Beloved Freak.”
Returning to the stage for a few more songs, Manson welcomed Marissa Paternoster of Screaming Females onstage for a performance of their Record Store Day single — a cover of Patti Smith’s Bruce Springsteen-penned song “Because the Night.” It sounded like a song the two had to sing, and their impassioned delivery drove that fact home. Paternoster even offered a sick guitar solo. Retuning to a couple more Version 2.0 singles after Paternoster’s departure from the stage, the band capped off a cohesive encore by weaving a cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams” into “You Look So Fine.” It felt like a satisfying end to the night until Duke Erikson performed a hilariously campy solo of “Thank You Honey Bun” before the band offered up a collective bow. By the way the crowd lingered once they left, it felt like Garbage could’ve kept them entertained for at least another hour, which posed an inquiry to me of whether or not Not Your Kind of People and its subsequent tour even needed to be helmed as a comeback in the first place.
Critical Bias: I started listening to Garbage around the time Bleed Like Me had been released, which also occurred just prior to an “indefinite hiatus.” I wasn’t sure I’d ever get to see the band live, even when they resumed playing music together a year and half after they announced the hiatus. This was well worth the wait.
Overheard #1: “Fuck Eric Avery and his dark homosexual music.” – Shirley Manson quoting a Facebook comment left on their page regarding Avery’s upcoming involvement with Nine Inch Nails.
Overheard #2: “Wow. Just wow. This is like the post-coital stage.” – over-zealous concertgoer while exiting the show.
Random Notebook Dump: I wonder if the bouquet of flowers someone in the pit was holding were actually for Manson? Either way, she requested they be brought to her. What a G.