|As Garbage played in front of a packed Newport house, lead siren Shirley Manson belts out, "Sex is not the enemy," from the highly anticipated new record, Bleed Like Me. But for Manson and the rest of Garbage, it seems the band had no enemies in the crowd, except for the natural journalist wanting to bash the band yet again. For some reason, Garbage has been a band critics love to put down, while their fans just love to get down to the high energy and sexualized music.
Perhaps those in the media are not too happy that Garbage was really a put-together, formulated band that was designed to sell records and make pop music. But that shouldn't take away the fact at how well they are able to arrange the techno-pop beats around the almost always masculine lyrics of a very feminine singer.
On their last tour, Garbage was the opener for U2 around Europe, and there perhaps may not be a better model of comparison. Although both bands are enjoying success on different levels, both share the curse or luck of having a very dominant and overshadowing lead singer. Because of the charisma of both, too often the musicians get overlooked Manson or Bono take a lot of the credit and appear in almost every review (just look at the amount on Manson photos vs. band photos here). But that should not take away from what Garbage the band brings to the stage every night.
Butch Vig is perhaps one of the timeliest drummers, as he never seems to miss a downcrash or a tom beat when needed. And without that perfection in timing, Manson would not be able to move and groove her body to entice both the male and females alike.
For the live show, Garbage brought a production unlike anything the Newport has ever seen. With a totally electric backdrop that used lights to form a constant barrage of images and messages, to the smaller TV screens that brought the same message, Garbage was able to turn the small club into an arena for the short, yet non-fluffed 75 minute set.
Starting their set with "Queer," Garbage quickly proved that their set list was going to be filled with fan favorites. But aside from playing just the hits, Garbage did a tremendous job of working their new music in the set without overpowering what most fans came to hear; and not to mention that the music from Bleed Like Me brings the same raw emotion and energy that made the band famous in the first place.
Within that 75 minutes, Garbage wasted no time on trivial stories or shallow demands for praise by saying, "Columbus, Ohio" over and over again. Garbage ran through their set with a metronome-like persistence and gave enough music within that short set time to almost make up for the short gig.
As one song bled into the next, it became more apparent how and why Garbage has graced the covers of countless rags and covered the walls of fans around the globe. Although the band may be very formulaic, which gets them in the garbage pail with critics, their formula is working with major success and top-notch quality. Although there may not be many surprises or shockers from the band, Manson's lyrics are able to strike chords deep within people; below the shallowness of normal pop. But it is the music that is somehow subconsciously able to drive those messages home and into fans' souls.
And somehow, Garbage was able to bring that synergy to a live show and get people feeling good and downright dirty. It is pop music R rated, and it is spot on.