In my interview with drummer Butch Vig last week, he compared Garbage’s first tour in seven years to “riding a wobbly bike.” Judging by Saturday night’s show at the Pearl, the Wisconsin-born alt-rockers never really forgot how to ride.
Garbage relied on no high-tech stage decor; all non-musical aspects of the performance were minimized, keeping the focus on the songs themselves. The oldies have aged nicely, and their themes—angst-driven and anti-mainstream, challenging common notions of beauty, fame and normality—seem more appropriate than ever. Singer Shirley Manson delivered the lyrics powerfully, and the crowd happily sang along, as if desperate for pop music to reclaim its meaningfulness.
- April 14, the Pearl
Sonically, the four original members—Manson, Vig, guitarist Steve Marker and bassist Duke Erikson—put their years of experience together to good use. Driving bass, grinding guitar and massive drumming were performed with robotic precision. Manson, noticeably affected by the crowd’s adoration, wailed through a set filled with the hits that propelled Garbage to stardom in the 1990s: “I Think I’m Paranoid,” “Stupid Girl,” “Push It” and “Only Happy When It Rains.” And the new tunes, off upcoming album Not Your Kind of People, seemed to pick up where 2005’s Bleed Like Me left off. Though available only through the official Garbage website thus far, the song “Blood for Poppies” already had fans chanting its refrain (“Don’t know why/They are calling on the radio”).
Maybe Saturday’s performance didn’t break new rock ’n’ roll ground. But Garbage rode hard down its familiar dirt road, reminding us why we fell in love with the band in the first place.