When you think back to the most important bands of the 1990’s alt rock movement, one of the bands that has to come to mind is Garbage. Lead by enigmatic frontwoman Shirley Manson, the versatile rockers made a name for themselves behind their monster self-titled, debut album. Between Manson, drummer and legendary record producer Butch Vig, guitarist Steve Marker and bassist Duke Erikson - whom both have production experience - there is a plethora of songwriting talent in the band. All that talent is what has lead to Garbage to being one of the best selling artists of the last 20 years, with just under 20 million albums sold since 1996.
After a brief break from 2008-2010, Garbage re-entered the studio together to record “Not Your Kind of People” which would be released in 2012. The album was met with some success charting as high as 13th on the US Billboard album charts. Upon its release, the band kicked off the “Not Your Kind of People Tour” which recently entered its final leg this month, after over 100 shows.
Garbage brought their tour into Boston’s House of Blues for a sold out show on Tuesday night. Right from the start it was evident that Manson’s voice hadn’t aged one bit from their 90’s heyday to now. Kicking things off with the electronic infused “Automatic System Habit” off their latest release, Garbage had their loyal fan base enthralled from the opening notes on. Manson showed off her sex-appeal strutting around the stage seductively while singing classic Garbage track “Queer”. Speaking to the crowd in her famous Scottish brogue Manson, addressed the crowed throughout the night on a variety of subjects. Among the topics of discussion was the fact that Garbage is scheduled to enter the studio to work a new album at the end of the current tour.
Throughout the night Garbage alternated pretty equally throughout their discography. Although, due to the band’s loyal fan base, it was pretty hard to tell the difference between old and new songs. Many in the audience knew every lyric to the new songs just as well as the classics. Perhaps the strongest evidence of this was on the new fan favorite “I Hate Love” to which much of the crowd sang and danced along enthusiastically to. On the back end of their set, Shirley Manson provided an inspiring introduction to the song “The Trick is to Keep Breathing” by telling her fans “keep breathing and I’ll remind myself to do the same”. After that, Garbage lit up the House of Blues with their smash hit “Only Happy When It Rains” which started out with a slowed down, mellow first verse before kicking into the high energy pace of the original studio version.
After finishing up their main set and playing one song of the encore, the band stopped for a special moment. Guitarist Steve Marker’s daughter, Ruby was in the house, celebrating her 13th birthday. She was brought out onstage and Manson lead a large sing-a-long of happy birthday to Ruby, as she was surprised on stage with a large birthday cake. Manson then dedicated the next song, “Special” to Ruby, only after telling her “there better still be some cake left for me, after I get off stage”. The night was capped off by a version of “You Look So Fire” that was infused with a brief snippet of Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams” as Shirley Manson channeled her inner Stevie Nicks.
Garbage’s set ran just under two hours and went as smoothly, if not smoother as they were in their prime. This is a band that had not aged one bit, running like a well oiled machine all night long, the talent of the Garbage band members – with a little help from touring member and former Jane’s Addiction bassist Eric Avery – was on display all evening as this group of alt-rock veterans proved they hadn’t lost a step.
Opening the show for Garbage were lo-fi alt rockers Io Echo, with a Florence and the Machine inspired sound they captured the audience’s attention quite quickly. Based out of Los Angeles, the band ties in a strong Japanese theme with their stage set up. With two Shoji screens on stage, a large silk fan in front of the drum kit, and vocalist Ioanna Gika in a Kimono the theme was pretty clear. Their sound was reminiscent of bands like My Bloody Valentine and the aforementioned Florence and the Machine. A great opening performance from a young band who seemed genuinely excited to be on tour with Garbage.