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Garbage thankfully hits the road

Avalon, Boston, April 17, 2005

By Jeffrey B. Remz

BOSTON - Good thing that Garbage managed to overcome its difficulties and came out with a very fine album, "Bleed Like Me," only their 4th in 10 years.

And that also thankfully meant a tour by the quartet was in the works.

And as they have on other occasions, lead singer Shirley Manson underscored once again in concert that this is a band with a lot of musical meat.

Garbage on "Bleed Like Me" and in concert still plays a very danceable, catchy brand of rock, but there's a harder edge to the music thanks to the guitar playing of Steve Marker and Duke Erikson, looking snazzy in a brown suit and tie.

The focal point remained Manson, who approached diva status, but fortunately fell far short of assuming that role. Her band mates seemed fine to relinquish the center to the Manson of Scotland, who was the last band member to walk down the stairs to the stage and does all the talking.

Manson certainly exudes a sensuous, sexy persona at times on many songs about relationships (of course, not all of them particularly healthy relationships) in her stances or by swiveling her hips.

She also possessed a seeming endless supply of energy, bounding about the stage time and again, going on her back to sing at one point and getting into the show without overdoing it.

While one could easily see how she could get away with her self importance, that was not really the case.

Well, except for one brief moment where she said she was the center of the evening's festivities instead of some "naughty boy" fan apparently doing something Manson apparently did not like.

In fact, Manson was quite appreciative of the adoring audience (as was the rest of the band at the end of the 75-minute show, which could have been longer given its quality and the strength of Garbage's songs), sharing a story about how excited the band was when Boston radio first played the band's music a decade ago.

Mason and company played about four songs from "Bleed Like Me," and most hit the mark with "Sex is Not the Enemy" the catchiest of the bunch. While the album was just released, it was easy to get into the songs ("Bad Boyfriend," "the new single "Why Do You Love Me?").

The title track is particularly poignant with characters bringing up issues like an eating disorder, sexual identity, cutting, therapy and getting lost in drinking.

Drummer Butch Vig set a very steady beat throughout the evening, keeping the music moving time and again along with a touring bassist. And Erikson and Marker traded off lead guitar playing with both easily up to the challenge, not wasting too many notes in the process of clean, but sharp playing.

At one point, Manson told the sold-out crowd that this evening was not a given.

"The last 2 1/2 years have been absolutely horrendous," she said, referring to the near break-up of the band suffering creativity problems during recording.

Fortunately for band and fan alike, Garbage overcame the problems.

Liverpool band The Dead 60's opened the evening with a strong 35-minute set with Clash-styled reggae songs and guitar-based rock songs with echoes of The Specials.

Lead singer Matt McManamon did a good job in presenting songs presumably hardly anyone knew since the group does not even have any music available in the U.S. except on its web site.

With a slew of British bands making their mark in the past year, like Franz Ferdinand, The Dead 60's may be able to add their name to the list as well.

©Country Standard Time • Jeffrey B. Remz, editor & publisher •
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