Standing before an elated audience at the Wellmont Theatre in Montclair, New Jersey, Shirley Manson powerfully repeats the phrase, “Bow down to me,” as Garbage puts the final touches on set opener “Supervixen.” It’s hard not to crack a smile; in the wake of the band’s incredibly successful comeback effort, the lyric feels like nothing short of a command for all to heed. After seven years of silence, Garbage’s opening show of the final leg of their Not Your Kind of People tour stands as a celebration of their journey back to the top and of the fans that helped them get there. “Bow down to me,” Manson sings, her arms spread wide before a welcoming crowd.
Bringing an infectious energy with them that at times felt like it could literally bring down the roof of the 90-year-old Wellmont, Garbage performed a set wholly dedicated to their most vehement supporters. The band’s performance was dominated by fan-favorites and greatest hits from throughout the their extensive repertoire. While Garbage started off with a pair of singles from their 1995 eponymous debut, they later played three Version 2.0-era singles back-to-back. “#1 Crush,” “I Think I’m Paranoid,” and “Special,” drove the audience wild and filled the venue with electricity as Manson paced in circles, furiously rattling off lyrics of love, heartbreak, and emotional torment with intense concentration. Classic Garbage songs were reworked and some even featured brief covers, perhaps most notably a Fleetwood Mac “Dreams” outro during set closer “You Look So Fine.” Several songs from Not Your Kind of People, though sparse, were also interwoven seamlessly into the set. Energetic and heavy performances of “Blood for Poppies” and “Control” proved with certainty that even after a long hiatus, Garbage still reigns over the rock music world.
On this night, a surprisingly small turnout at the venue created an intimate atmosphere that fostered a number of special exchanges between the band and audience. Early in the set, Manson dedicated Bleed Like Me single, “Why Do You Love Me?” specifically to all of the hardcore Garbage fans in the attendance, expressing Garbage’s love for their supporters and their patience throughout the band’s hiatus. In a memorable performance of the song, Manson ended up lying flat on the ground singing in emotional agony the lyric, “I have no proof, but I know that I’m right!” Later in the show, Manson and drummer Butch Vig even brought one super-fan up onstage for a photo-op, and proceeded to perform, “The Trick is to Keep Breathing” to her in a gracious and demonstration of supreme appreciation.
While the entirety of the band’s 21-song marathon setlist was a highlight in and of itself, Garbage’s encore was without a doubt the most noteworthy part of the performance. In a salute to the state of New Jersey, Bruce Springsteen, and their own idol Patty Smith, Garbage brought Screaming Females’ vocalist Marissa Paternoster out and performed a stunning cover of “Because the Night,” a track the band recorded with Paternoster for release on Record Store Day 2013. At the end of the song, Manson physically left the stage and gave Paternoster a lengthy, shredding guitar solo that wowed the audience and brought the loudest applause of the night. Garbage closed the night on a softer note with “Beloved Freak,” an anthem the band has frequently dedicated to their unique fan base throughout the current tour.
“If you’re here tonight, it’s either because you’re a hardcore Garbage fan or because you’ve heard our new record,” Manson declared with gratitude before announcing the band’s impending returning to the studio. Ultimately, Garbage’s opening night performance in Montclair, New Jersey, showcased a band back on top of their game, eager to write new music and ready to give a little love back to their supporters. The band’s greatest hits were performed with fresh vitality, while their new material shone as a beacon of hope and anticipation for future Garbage records. “Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine,” Manson sang to an astonished audience. The band took a collective bow and left the stage for the night, but definitely not for good.
Blood For Poppies
Why Do You Love Me?
I Think I’m Paranoid
Man On A Wire
The Trick Is To Keep Breathing
Cherry Lips (Go Baby Go!)
Only Happy When It Rains
You Look So Fine
Because The Night (Patti Smith/Bruce Springsteen cover)