20 May 2002
Denver, Colorado, USA
Shirley Manson blazed into town with some beautiful Garbage and performed a masterful set in front of an adoring, sold out crowd.
In her latest incarnation, the supervixen sported a butch, platinum blonde do and a leopardskin-patterned shirt with snug olive green pants, cut off halfway past the knees. Rounding out the fashion statement were black suspenders, left dangling from her hips.
Push It, from the band's second album, was the surprise opener, but they squeezed in several songs from their latest disc, the underrated beautifulgarbage, as well.
Among them, Cherry Lips (Go Baby Go!) and Cup of Coffee effectively showcased the new album's range of material. Garbage's ode to love and rock 'n' roll, Til The Day I Die, pulled out all the attitude expected from the best of their tunes and rocked the house.
Providing the opening to So Like A Rose, Manson treated the crowd to a simple guitar solo. In contrast to her "beautiful guitar," covered in the rose design from the new album's cover, Manson commented that her guitar playing is not as beautiful. Maybe so, but it was effective and the song took on a new life in its live performance.
A playful Manson chatted up the crowd and quickly turned the aisles of the historic Paramount Theatre into an impromptu general admission section in order to get a good vibe going. It worked. There was no shortage of volunteers anxious to get up close to the Scottish siren.
With a patch of turf still open in front of the stage, Manson quickly pointed it out and asked if somebody had pooped there. Otherwise, somebody should be standing there! The request was filled in no time.
After acknowledging she was going through her period (and taking the requisite survey of the audience to find out how many ladies were in the same boat), Manson asked for females in a rock band to raise their hand. Only a few fit the bill.
Funny enough, the
one Manson did select for a quick Q&A session was in a three-girl band,
but one without a name. Such an opportunity doesn't come often, and Manson quickly
consulted with the band's drummer and creative genius, Butch Vig, for a quick
His knee-jerk response? Yogurt Guitar Army. Vig stood up and raised his arms in victory as the crowd cheered in support. Stating the obvious, Manson assured the girl you're not in a real band unless the band has a name.
Moving on, Manson's main question was: Why aren't there more girls in rock bands? Lame answers like "girls are intimidated" chapped Manson's hide. She finally pulled the right answer out of a guy in a band: Plenty of girls want to be in a rock band, he said, they just need to go out and make it happen.
In total agreement with that observation, Manson dedicated Shut Your Mouth to the nameless girl in the nameless band, a perfect anthem to match the message.
Garbage provides Manson, Vig, and guitarists Steve Marker and Duke Erikson the opportunity to not only mix music styles technically in an amazing blend of straight rock, punk, techno, and grunge, but also mix music thematically. Their songs are about angst, anger, love, betrayal, and blind ambition.
More importantly, the theme of having an identity and an attitude offers an irresistable hook. While there aren't any traditionally "happy" songs in the Garbage Canon, their songs instead celebrate the challenges. If you've got to have a chip on your shoulder, you might as well wear a 'tude to match.
As Garbage has progressed, so has Manson in shedding her own insecurities and in creating a strong, inspirational rock persona.
Manson's voice was stunningly solid and gorgeous in a way that only rock 'n' roll can capture. Special was a particularly stirring showcase of her talent.
Classic rockers were spread throughout the set, including Temptation Waits, Stupid Girl, I Think I'm Paranoid, and As Heaven is Wide. All were spiced up and amped up, making them sound better than ever.
Although Garbage would be better suited in a setting that allows for a full-blown general admission area, giving the crowd the room needed to rock out to the band's far from sedate tunes, the Paramount did emphasize just how good the band can sound. It was a loud crowd listening to a loud band that was performing at its best.
The incredible bass line thumped through the floor and right through the audience, creating a state of symbiosis. If anybody's heart dared to stop during the show, the music's omnipresent bass would compensate, keeping the blood pumping long after the show's conclusion.
A rapturous reception greeted the band for their encore. Manson, playing the "period" card, threatened to cry. Fittingly, Only Happy When It Rains closed out the show.
The only downside to this gig was its short length. The 90-minute set covered ground both old and new, but there were a lot of tunes missing in action, including Androgyny, the first single from beautifulgarbage.
The energized, enthusiastic crowd deserved a bit more, but what they got was pure platinum nonetheless.