Garbage – Concert 2001

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Concert Review by Nigel A. Messenger

The Astoria, London – 14 November 2001

Garbage have been off the scene for quite a while now, but with the recent release of their new album BEAUTIFULGARBAGE a mixture of new and established musical styles for the band, and their first single ‘Androgyny’ off the album, it’s obviously time to hit the road and get back in front of their public. Rather than jump straight back into the large scale venues we’ve got used to seeing them in, they have decided to do a small ‘club’ style tour consisting of a number of one off gigs in key European cities.

The Astoria, their London gig was not surprisingly a complete sell-out, so anticipation loomed high as we wondered what to expect, both from Garbage and the audience.

The first surprise had to be Shirley herself, as the previously sexy, and very feminine redhead has not only changed her hairstyle but also her entire image. Now, beyond even platinum blonde – she’s dyed her hair white – she’s had a short punky haircut and is wearing trousers with wide braces and a white vest top. Her masculine appearance no doubt is to coincide with the theme of the single ANDROGYNY but to be honest, it doesn’t do her any favours.

But Garbage isn’t about Shirley’s image it’s about their music, and that I’m pleased to say is as good as ever. Moving away from the usual formula of playing the new stuff first and then sticking in some established favourites in the encore, the show was totally mixed around switching from the old established tracks to new material literally back and forth to end their encore with ONLY WHEN OT RAINS.

There didn’t seem to be quite so much strutting around the stage as past performances by Ms Manson but it’s a small stage at The Astoria so half way through she did some push-ups – yes I did say push-ups – instead. The whole band were superb as usual and Matt Chamberlain on drums also gave a fine performance standing in for Butch Vig who could not be present due to ill health.

So how did the audience react. Well no surprises with the established favourites, in fact they seem to literally throb en-masse with anything off the first two albums as they did to the faster, heavier tracks from BEAUTIFULGARBAGE but I couldn’t help noticing a distinct lack of interest in a couple of the slower songs from their latest album, something I’ve never personally noticed before at a Garbage concert. The incredible CHERRY LIPS scheduled as the second single from the new album actually got a cheer from the crowd on the opening notes so expect sales to rocket on the release.

But generally the crowd really wanted the faster, heavier, more exciting stuff and Garbage did deliver a studio perfect performance as always. In fact, Garbage live is better than most bands can manage in a studio any day.

I can’t wait for their main tour hopefully in the first quarter of 2002.