We had the pleasure of seeing Garbage last fall while we were in Seattle, and while I wasn't fond of the venue (the ShowBox SoDo), I felt lucky to see them at all after their long disappearance. I almost didn't see them this time, but my friend Jeff sent me a text literally minutes before shutting off my phone on our cruise in February, asking if I wanted a ticket. Good timing, sir. This was my seventh time seeing them, I believe. Among the highlights was the announcement by Shirley Manson that they were headed into the studio in a few weeks, at the conclusion of the tour, to record again. What a relief that is!
First off, I should talk about the venue. I hated ShowBox. It sounded like shit, and it was just too much of a clusterfuck of a venue. I'm just not cut out for standing room shows anymore. That said, the Cleveland House of Blues actually has a lot of character, surprisingly enough. While I'm a little bitter that it essentially displaced the Odeon (which would have died with the flats anyway), it's nice. We managed to find a position just to the right of a VIP area with a nice clear view of the stage, maybe 40 feet away. I was not crushed. There were some asshats behind us talking much of the time, drinking PBR (fucking Ohio), but overall it wasn't bad. They do have some reserved seating, and I'd be all about that if I ever see something there again.
The opening band was IO Echo, and I have to admit that I liked what I heard. Lots of noise with a female vocal, yeah, hard to believe I'd like that as a fan of Garbage, Yeah Yeah Yeah's and Metric. What I believe is their first album just came out last week, so I definitely have to check them out.
The set list for Garbage was completely different from what they played in Seattle. They didn't even end on "Vow," which seemed to be their custom (they played it second to last before the encore). Only one song from Bleed Like Me again, and it was "Why Do You Love Me." Clearly they're very attached to the first two albums, as well as the newest one.
What I really like about Garbage live is that they're always springing new arrangements of songs on you. The big surprise this time was "The Trick Is To Keep Breathing." It's one of those songs I've always kind of been indifferent about, but the way they played it made me just love it. They also did that arrangement of "Only Happy When It Rains" that is slower and more stripped down, before it rocks out. I love that.
It was also a good night for their best ballads. They closed the main set with "Beloved Freak," which is a really wonderful song that appeals to everyone who has ever felt like an outcast. Really beautiful to hear it live. They closed the encore with "You Look So Fine," which as it turns out, is a really great song to make a lot of noise in.
The thing that came through even more than last time is just how much they love doing this. There's none of that pretentious rock star bullshit, in part I suspect because they're free of major label nonsense... it's all them. I can honestly say that there aren't many live acts I've seen that bring real joy to performance the way they do. It wasn't always the case for them, but it's like a second coming for them. I mean, Shirley is 46, and the dudes are in their 50's and 60's. Can you imagine that being your job at that stage of your life?