New Orleans, LA (May 10th, 2019)
Meaghan Clark- There’s a special kind of ease of movement and comfort onstage that some bands and performers have instinctually and others have to work hard at – and, sadly, some never achieve. Shirley Manson and her fellow music makers in the beloved band Garbage have that ease and confidence in spades. Their May 10th 2019 performance at The Fillmore in New Orleans was a fantastic display of fire, grace and fierce energy that was mopped up by their rabid fans.
Opening act, Pleasure Venom, a five-piece punk band from Austin, TX also brought the energy, particularly front woman Audrey Campbell, whose screams and wails kept the audience paying attention. Dressed in an animal print jacket, her look matched her sound – wild, intense and slightly dangerous.
The beginning of their short set was marred by some technical difficulties with the sound, which were never quite perfected. Too bad, as there were some moments when it was hard to hear and understand their lyrics, which by all accounts, are powerful and worth listening to. The band was well-received by the audience regardless, and received very high praise from Shirley Manson herself.
After a quick change of equipment, Garbage hit the stage on time, a rarity in the city of New Orleans. Dressed in a polka dot tights, black boots, a silver lame dress and topped with a Bowie-esque asymmetrical white jacket, Manson was every bit the style icon she has been known as. Her repetitive walking in a large circle set the tone for the show and demonstrated that Manson has loads of experience moving on stage whether through acting, singing or dancing.
Opening with “Control”, Manson belted out the lyrics which talk about losing oneself in love or lust, a theme that is repeated in variations in other tunes. Hallmarks of the band’s lyrics include ideas of over-the-top intensity in love, surrendering one’s mind, body and soul and dramatic feelings. It’s extremely angsty music, but with a pop/rock sound that knows when to be serious and when to poke fun at it all.
As riveting as the band was, the fans were equally fun to watch. Rabid, devoted, loyal, obsessed could all be used to describe this fan base. As far back as five rows deep, Garbage fans knew every word to every song and it was as if Manson was singing the soundtrack to their youth or their current lives. Eyes closed lost in the moment, eyes wide open pleading with Manson to see them, hands raised in the air feeling the magic or pumping along to the beat of the drums, Garbage fans brought it. That kind of devotion was a sight to behold!
The band cycled through hit after hit, pleasing their base before taking a moment to thank New Orleans for having them, praising opening band Pleasure Venom and to their fans for their support. Known to be an outspoken supporter of equality and justice and freedom, Manson did not hold back when talking about the plethora of uninspiring pop hits by formulaic mainstream bands who are void of “ideas and movement” and executives “pushing piss” as she so eloquently put it.
The band offered up a short encore and Manson paid tribute to one of her musical influences as a young girl, pioneer musician Siouxsie Sioux and said she hoped other young girls would find their way to music as well.