Review: Garbage unmemorable, but passion laudable

SIMON SWEETMAN
Last updated 05:00 21/02/2013
Garbage

STILL UNMEMORABLE: Garbage's live set was nothing to write home about, but their enthusiasm was laudable.

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REVIEW: Garbage

Michael Fowler Centre, Wellington, February 19

Music critics are sure that a lot of what people listen to is garbage, but it was amazing, almost baffling, to see how many people are still passionate about Garbage, the crunchy-pop band that arrived post-grunge, pre-nu metal slap bang in the middle of the 1990s, a little faux-goth, a handful of singles threatening to stick around for a while.

Nearly a decade on, Garbage has returned. You would almost wonder who asked. But, with everyone standing from the moment the band members took the stage, there was no denying this was what fans wanted. Shouting out every word, swaying and swooning, the audience followed Shirley Manson as she owned the stage.

Her backing band could be anonymous really, ironic given Garbage's story was sold around Manson being plucked from obscurity while the instrumentalists had the street-cred, in particular drummer Butch Vig, who had produced Nirvana and Smashing Pumpkins, while Duke Erikson and Steve Marker (both guitars/keyboards) were also studio boffins.

Garbage was the name for a project that would see the producers use studio flotsam as a backdrop for Manson to splash pop songs against.

If they ever challenged a spot as the world's biggest band then it was for a few weeks only nearly 20 years ago but the reformed Garbage surged through Supervixen, Push It and Hammering in my Head as if the theatre were a stadium.

There was a lot of air-bruising with so many fists being pumped, the audience charged up by Garbage throwing down the big singles from the self-titled album and cherry picking the likes of Cherry Lips and James Bond theme The World is Not Enough.

The songs were never enough for me, not strong in my book, faceless, facile; walking with a limp.

Although I'm reminded of all that is wrong with trend-chasing cliches masquerading as pop hooks, these songs - utterly unmemorable as compositions, breathtakingly awful in their absurdity, horrifically dated - the conviction behind the performance cannot be faulted. Nor the reception.

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- Wellington

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