On a hot and awesome monday evening, Tuco ventured out to the Phoenix with good buddy D to take in some Garbage. We got there early and managed to snag some chairs in the balcony.
Live Nation had tweeted the set times with opening act James Alan, from parts unknown, starting at 8:30. Turns out Alan is a magician. Interesting choice starting a show with a magic act. Alan engaged the crowd, getting people on stage and doing some decent card tricks. Most seemed to involve palming cards or some such trickery but generally an entertaining opener.
By the time Garbage was ready to take the stage, the place was packed. A young crowd with a lot of ladies. Everybody was stoked to see Shirley Manson, the charismatic frontwoman for the band. The rest of the band is composed of rhythm-guitar Duke Erikson and producers Butch Vig (percussion) and Steve Marker (lead guitar). Last but not least is journeyman bassist Eric Avery who some might recall from Metallica's Some Kind Of Monster, the bass auditions as well as Jane's Addiction and other ventures.
The band finally takes the stage at 9:30 and launch into their set. Shirley has her hair up, Steve and Dave are wearing suits. The crowd is engaged in the earlies and the band pauses a bit between songs to let the song sit.
I'm comfortably off my feet with a great view and D is happily cheering and gabbing with two lovely ladies from the Hammer. The sound is decent and the band expertly mix in little snippets from synthesizers and guitar pedals. The whole effect is professional and effective and .... unglamourous. That is, next to Shirley Manson, everything else kind of fades into the background. She's got a great presence and a great voice. And the audience is super appreciative.
It's early yet into the program and out comes Stupid Girl. This was one of their big ones back in the day. The band delivers the track with a seering dancey beat which goes over well. The pacing of the concert is great and by this time the band has shed their outerwear and are delivering the goods.
Another few tracks and it's #1 Crush, Cherry Lips and a great track from their new album Blood For Poppies. Amazing stuff. D and the Hammer ladies are hooting and yowling. It's a great vibe from the crowd.
On the last stretch, there's a technical glitch which momentarily stops the performance. For a brief moment Shirley backs away from the stage, content to wait it out with the band - she seems kind of shy. But then, as if remembering she's a rock star, starts to gab with the audience. Shirley picks a few people in the front row and asks them where they are from.
"Peterborough" (loud clapping from Tuco on this one).
Duke emerges from stage left with a shot of Highland Park - Shirley's drink of choice. She's SO Scottish!! And we're off again. D is starting to scream something in my ear about rain and when she's happy. And then the big song hits, the one D has been waiting for. D and the ladies from Hamilton and all the other women in the place go off cause I'm Only Happy When It Rains is playing. Shirley ends up writhing on the stage floor and finishes the song on top with a dramatic arch of the back. Wow. Somehow she made that look classy.
And an appreciative post-concert tweet from the band :
@garbage: Toronto! That was off the chain! Thankyou for a very special evening!!! G