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On Stage – Still Sounds like Garbage

Dateline – DETROIT
Pine Knob Music Theatre
6 July 2023

I’m an unabashed fan of Shirley Manson, so when she and the men of Garbage hitched a ride with Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds and took the stage at Pine Knob Music Theatre for the third year in a row, I couldn’t miss it. Not only because I missed the previous two, but also because Garbage have been at it for a while now, and Shirley made it sound like they might not be back this way any time soon.

The band was founded in 1993, and officially broke out with the smash “Stupid Girl” from their 1995 debut album. Garbage sport the same lineup today: Shirley out front, Duke Erikson and Steve Marker on guitars & synths, and the legendary Butch Vig on drums. Oddly, Garbage have never had an official bass player. Daniel Shulman filled that role on this tour, as he did in 2005 at the memorable “head-shaving” gig in Las Vegas. [Editor’s note: Read that story here.]

Despite the meticulous production of most of their recordings, Garbage are still best enjoyed live. They show no signs of road-rash. Shirley still captivates an audience, and her bandmates are accomplished and together. Duke now tends toward a Keith Richards vibe, and Steve has his Dr. Bunsen Honeydew, mad-scientist thing going. And it’s always good to see Butch up there.

Shirley seemed genuinely pleased to be back on the festival stage at the Knob, sharing a story of a previous visit in which a couple of raccoons enjoyed the show from the pavilion’s rafters. “We’ll always have the raccoons,” she sighed wistfully.

Their set was a great mix of beloved classics and a variety of later-career tunes. They opened with a nice hard version of “Supervixen,” the hooky lead track from their debut (surprisingly never released as a single). An early-set highlight for me was “The Men Who Rule the World,” from their most recent, No Gods No Masters. Shirley was super-connected on the newer material.

My girl gloriously does not give a shit anymore. She rocked a long plaid skirt made of two different tartans and a polka dot blouse over a pink tube top. With her bleached hair in a high-and-tight pony, Shirley commanded the stage and enthralled the crowd. After a beautiful rendition of 2012’s “Beloved Freak,” she confessed she had become a bit emotional. “I must be on my period, but I haven’t had one in years.” She also shared that she had a bad case of acne. “I know you’re not supposed to make menopause jokes, but fuck it.”

Mid-set, I was thrilled to hear them rock a killer version of Siouxie and the Banshees’ “Cities in Dust.” Shirley was fired up that the recent release of their cover version coincided with Siouxie Sioux’s return to performing after 15 years.

After 30 years, 17 million records sold, and a shitload of hits on the mainstream and alternative charts, who knows what the future holds for these music-biz survivors. Without major-label support, touring can be an expensive grind for bands who run their own label, as Garbage do with Stunvolume. So I’m glad I caught this gig. Hopefully, it won’t be the last time I hear them make the beats go harder.

Fall in love with Garbage all over again on garbage.com

Pull your hair back, pull on your Doc Martens, and groove to this playlist of Garbage’s 2023 tour

Don’t forget, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds were also on this bill

On Stage – Noel Gallagher Still Flying High


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