Saturday, October 06, 2018

Garbage revisits glorious past; previews future in Las Vegas

Garbage performing in Las Vegas on Oct. 5, 2018.
Garbage, Rituals Of Mine
Where: The Chelsea at The Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas
When: Friday, October 6, 2018
Next: Garbage will headline at The Marquee Theatre in Tempe, Arizona on Oct. 7. 
Information: Garbage is on tour through Nov. 3, 2018. For all of the band's upcoming tour dates and ticket information, visit

Performing for just under two hours on Friday night, Garbage performed a wide-ranging concert that celebrated the band's 25-year history while previewing a memorable new song that came in the encore.

Singer Shirley Manson and drummer Butch Vig of Garbage.
Garbage began its current tour in late September in connection with the 20th anniversary of band's terrific sophomore album Version 2.0 (originally released in May 1998), which was re-released as a must-own and expanded deluxe edition in June 2018. That album's original track listing and some of the wonderful B-sides and bonus tracks the quartet recorded in the late 1990s (also included on the recent deluxe edition) were presented at The Chelsea at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas resort on Friday night, Oct. 5, 2018. 

Shirley Manson caught up in the moment at The
Chelsea at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas.
Through the fast-moving fog of time it's easy to forget how groundbreaking Garbage was when they emerged with their self-titled debut album in August 1995. In an era personified by American grunge (Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Stone Temple Pilots, etc.) and a testosterone-fueled sonic aesthetic of the day, here was a band fronted by Scottish female singer Shirley Manson where the bona fide power of modern rock was artfully fused with electronica and an emphasis on creating masterful songs. In addition to Manson (lead vocals, guitar), top-tier American musicians Duke Erikson (guitar, keyboards), Steve Marker (guitar) and Butch Vig (percussion) have always been fully involved in the creation and production of the troupe's original material. 

Watching Garbage perform in Las Vegas was to be fully reminded how well the outfit's songcraft and talents as musicians have endured. Manson  with eye-catching makeup to match her dramatic attire  was engaged with the audience and relaxed even when their was a technical glitch forcing the band to re-start "Special" early on. "Let's take a moment to recover," Manson mused. "Good evening Las Vegas."

The subsequent 2.0 performance of "Special" was epic and thrilled the crowd, the song's iconic verses and soaring choruses hitting the collective mark. That masterful performance was followed by decidedly dark, post-goth take on the group's theme song for the 1999 James Bond flick "The World Is Not Enough." That alluring track had an almost symphonic feel, with the song growing in power to an impact-filled finale.

There was also a sense of paying tribute to seminal artists who came before Garbage, laying the groundwork for bands willing to make their mark in rock's rich tapestry. Early in the wide, on the band's cool "Wicked Ways" Garbage suddenly segued into Depeche Mode's blues rocker "Personal Jesus." Garbage pulled off a similar feat several times later in the set, finishing off the forceful rocker "13x Forever" with a bit of The Kinks' wistful 1965 hit "Tired of Waiting for You." Garbage ended its regular set with the fiery "You Look So Fine," wrapped up with a reworked slice of Fleetwood Mac's "Dreams."

Shirley Manson and Butch Vig of Garbage in the final moments
of the band's memorable set in Las Vegas on Oct. 5, 2018.

"It's not a normal Garbage set," Manson explained before the band's performance of "Hammering In My Head," a song she added was the "only party song we've ever written." She then noted that this night would feature a set of songs "you've never heard."

Guitarist Duke Erikson.
Manson wasn't kidding about this night's foray into distant musical worlds. Among the cuts showcased was the group's absolutely stunning take on the Big Star classic "Thirteen"  the 1972 song chronicling adolescence retained its melancholy-draped moodscape even while reworked with Garbage's signature sound. Another strong cover, The Seeds' 1965 "Can't Seem To Make You Mine," included Manson even pounding out keyboards to fire up the garage rock classic.

For sure, many fans on hand at The Chelsea responded loudest with the performance of the band's best-known material ("Special," "I Think I'm Paranoid," "Push It"), but this writer was most impressed by the eclectic mix of originals and covers, played with a sense of artistry and pure fun.

Garbage delivered a solid three-song encore to cap a great concert, with the simmering rocker "The Trick Is To Keep Breathing," introspective 2017 original "No Horses" and the night-ending electronica-flavored "Cherry Lips (Go Baby Go!)."

Combine the musical instincts of WarpaintEddie Vedder and Björk and you might well come up with Sacramento, California' duo Rituals Of Mine. Performing a 30-minute set of hard-hitting songs whose lyrical tides dealt mostly with relationships, the crowd welcomed and cheered the twosome's high-octane electronica/rock fusion. 

Review and photography by Robert Kinsler

Garbage Setlist at The Chelsea on October 5, 2018

1. Deadwood
2. Temptation Waits
3. Wicked Ways (with Depeche Mode's "Personal Jesus" snippet)
4. Special
5. The World Is Not Enough
6. 13x Forever (with The Kinks' "Tired of Waiting for You" snippet)
7. Get Busy With the Fizzy
8. Hammering In My Head
9. Medication
10. Thirteen (Big Star cover)
11. Can't Seem To Make You Mine (The Seeds cover)
12. I Think I'm Paranoid
13. Sleep Together
14. Dumb
15. Soldier Through This
16. Lick The Pavement
17. Push It
18. When I Grow Up
19. You Look So Fine (with Fleetwood Mac's "Dreams" snippet)
20. The Trick Is To Keep Breathing
21. No Horses
22. Cherry Lips (Go Baby Go!)

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