Last Night: Garbage at House of Blues

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Garbage October 9, 2012 House of Blues

See Garbage and Houston's most devoted darklings in our slideshow.

Shirley Manson pays her debts.

Maybe it's that Scottish Calvinist ancestry, or the discipline honed by decades with the same group of bandmates. Maybe she's really a Lannister. Whatever the reason, the Garbage front woman was very eager to make it up to Houston for canceling their previously scheduled April show.

Don't get us wrong, we appreciated the love and extended encore (including audience requests), but the cancelation was really more of an act-of-God thing, right? Illness in the family? It isn't like Butch Vig was arrested for aggravated frottage or something.

In any case, Houston got a real treat last night on the penultimate date of the North American leg of their Not Your Kind of People tour, though we can imagine a lot of us with 9-to-5 jobs are upping our coffee intake this morning.

Manson was in 100 percent vamp mode from the opener ("Supervixen," from the band's self-titled debut album), strongly encouraging the assembled fans ("darklings," as we/they are called) to "bow to me." This was followed in quick succession by "I Think I'm Paranoid" and "Shut Your Mouth," after which Manson once again went into repentant mode: "Houston, Texas...you have waited so long."

The next cut, "Why Do You Love Me?", was dedicated to us. "You know how it is when you really piss somebody off?" Manson asked. Not to belabor the point, but we don't think anyone was really that upset. And if they were, the repeated squeals (and shouts, dudes were equally effusive about their love of Ms. Manson) of "I love you!" echoing through the HOB proved by ten minutes into the set that there were no hard feelings.

Next up was "Queer," as sinuously sinister as it was in 1995, followed by "Stupid Girl." Manson was in full command at this point, engaging every section of the audience while striking seductive poses which were highly effective in spite of her choice of outfits; a Halloween-y orange and black sleeveless shirt and shorts ensemble. The rest of the band, clad in black, wisely stuck to the side (guitarists Steve Marker and Duke Erikson) or hung out back by the drum riser (bassist Eric Avery, formerly of Jane's Addiction).

Side note: I referred to Marker as "Mike E" in my notes, because of his uncanny resemblance to Breaking Bad's Mike Ehrmantraut.

The new single from Not Your Kind of People followed. "Control" is, how do we put this, very Garbage-esque: Electronica influences, lyrics evoking desperation and longing, and buzzsaw guitars. It was one of five cuts from Not Your Kind of People, most of which fell during the middle section of the show, and all of which seemed fairly well-received. Or maybe it's simply a matter of absence making the heart grow fonder. When was the last time the band swung through H-Town? 2002? We have indeed waited so long.

Manson has never lacked for self-assurance, but age has mellowed that piss and vinegar somewhat. Some might erroneously (and repeatedly, as the claim has been made before) talk about Manson's newfound vulnerability in these new tracks, when it's been there all along. Attitude is one thing, but you don't write songs like "Stupid Girl" or "Vow" without knowing a little bit about self-loathing.

Or how to turn it around, as it turns out. Garbage barreled through the remainder of the main set with the powerful combo of "Push It," "Only Happy When it Rains" and "Vow," Manson a dark elf bringing the crowd to a head. In spite of the fact we're well into the 21st century, Garbage's music will always sound millennial to us; haunting, anxious, and shot through with currents of impending doom. They should've been on the Strange Days soundtrack. Just them.

Then it was time for the encore, which was hit (a searing cover of "Because the Night," accompanied by Marissa Paternoster from opening act Screaming Females) and miss (the band signed a poster for somebody, plus an abortive "audience request" portion that nonetheless yielded the rarely played -- since '02, anyway -- "Cup of Coffee"). More important was Manson demanding we recognize those women, like Paternoster, who stand up to the musical establishment rather than dance around and "show their tits."

They closed out with the new "I Hate Love" and what may be our personal favorite, "You Look So Fine." By then, it was 12:30. Surprisingly, most of the sellout crowd stuck it out to the end.

Manson and company could easily have marked time through a hits-only set list and most of those assembled would have probably been fine with it, but they upped the ante. Wiseass wardrobe comments aside, Manson doesn't need to flash her boob (hi, Madonna!) or resort to outre theatrics (hi, Lady Gaga!) to make her presence known. With just a microphone, she has ten times their stage presence. She left it all out there last night, and tired as we are this morning (so very tired), it was worth staying up for.

All is forgiven, Shirley.

Personal Bias: Forever darkling.

The Crowd: As previously mentioned, suprisingly not lame. Lots of sexytime going on as well, at least in the dark corners where we were standing.

Overheard In the Crowd: "Are they allowed to go this late?"

Random Notebook Dump: "Of the three singers with the surname Manson, she's definitely the best."


Supervixen I Think I'm Paranoid Shut Your Mouth Why Do You Love Me? Queer Stupid Girl Hammering In My Head Control #1 Crush Automatic Systematic Habit Cherry Lips Blood for Poppies Special The Trick is to Keep Breathing Battle in Me Push It Only Happy When it Rains Vow


Because the Night (Patti Smith cover/duet with Marissa Paternoster) The One Cup of Coffee I Hate Love You Look So Fine

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