Shirley Manson of Garbage - photo by Sal Serio
Declaring their intentions right from the start, Garbage kicked off their sold-out Madison show with, “Subhuman,” and the line, “burn down your all your idols.” Dropping the curtain for, ” Supervixen,” the band exposed a well-oiled machine engulfed in blinding lights and purple haze with pink princess, Shirley Manson holding court. Celebrating the twentieth anniversary of their self-titled debut, the Twenty Years Queer tour spotlights the heady years of 1995-96 with a robust roster of international hits, b-sides and covers. Even the pre-show music of Cornershop and Stereo MCs circled around those transformational years when Garbage exploded on the scene with their techno-funky synthesis of rock and electronics; flirting with convention and trashing preconceived notions of gender and power.
As the city where much of this all started, Madison greeted the band with unchecked adoration, gobbling up every reference to Madtown Ms. Manson threw out, turning the Orpheum into a mosh-pit of mutual appreciation among old friends. “This is our home away from home,” Shirley announced at the beginning of their exhaustive two hour performance and soon followed it up with stories of being hammered at Cafe Montmartre, flying into Madison for the first time and her experiences with downtown hotels from cockroaches to yellow satin waterbeds.
Reinforcing her tender reminisces with a set list that built up steam as the evening progressed, back stories to a, “Girl Don’t Come and “The Butterfly Collector,” painted a manic time scrambling to take the best from what preceded them and turn it into something better. As, “Vow,” an hour into the show explicitly stated, “like Joan of Arc coming back for more,” 1995-era Garbage took no prisoners and showed no mercy. Whether rerouting new technologies into orgasmic spectaculars with, “As Heaven is Wide,” or skulking in scalding robo-eroticia in, “My Lover’s Box,” the band’s randy examination of the sacred and profane proved perfect fodder for its time and for times to come as evidenced by the wide demographics attending the show. Constructing a fortress of illicit wickedness guarded by the engineering prowess of Steve Marker and Duke Erikson’s guitar-triggered synths and patch-bay consoles, the enthralled audience witnessed a grungy pop-apocalypse as the devilishly tight unit bankrolled angst inside desire with delayed wah-wah and sculpted distortion
As if any doubt could have withstood the brutal exhibition the band put forth, drummer and mastermind Butch Vig grabbed the mic as the band reassembled for a galvanizing four song encore with a rallying call to the audience, “This is not our swan song,” he roared with news of a nearly completed album poised to drop next year. As the multiple cameras from YahooLive instantaneously transmitted his words to computers around the world, Garbage’s commitment to the future appeared alive and kicking.
Opening up for an iconic behemoth, Torres proved more than capable of igniting the night in volcanic splendor. Her deep voice and monster chops delivered cosmic goth-rock highlighting her recent album, “Sprinter,” that reflected Garbage’s own renegade spirit and insatiable need for innovation.