It’s not very often where you get to experience a performance by a truly iconic band. A band who really inspired entire generations of fans, meshing together genres and styles to cement their sound and stand alone in terms of substance and output. Garbage of course, fit this bill perfectly. There was such a buzz that filled the Hordern on Friday night, with fans young and old packing in to see Shirley Manson and her band completely bring the house down.
Rising star and triple j favourite Olympia, warmed the crowd with ease, performing songs from her debut record Self Talk. Her voice was so light, it seemed to effortlessly wash over the crowd. Many dedicated supporters were scattered amongst the eclectic crowd, with fans repeating lines from Somewhere To Disappear and Smoke Signals, but it was Different Cities that was the real standout, with the Aussie songstress showcasing her effortlessly haunting vocals. It is definitely worth noting however, the best thing about Olympia’s performance was the pure joy it brought to her as an artist, as it was truly infectious. The harmonies were of course, a hit, as was expected, but it was her tenacity with the guitar that was an unexpected but very welcome surprise. She was truly angelic on stage with just the right amount of undercover sass to make her a fitting support for legendary front-woman Shirley Manson.
In between sets, as is always the case with phenomenal headline act such as Garbage, the crowd were restless. It should definitely be mentioned, if you ever want to really see exactly how diverse a band’s back catalogue actually is, scan the crowd. Garbage gave a voice to so many different individuals fusing pop and grunge at a time where the music industry needed it most. There were the punters who were old enough to truly appreciate the debut record, reminiscing the days of slamming teenage doors and relating to the unapologetic fierceness of Shirley Manson. One punter was literally quivering with anticipation stating; “I haven’t moshed in ten years, but someone hold my bag and I’m so down with the kids”. There was quite a noticeable and very youthful presence as well, probably a larger cohort than the older fans expected. These were the kids who could truly appreciate an icon, after crawling out of the woodwork and exploring the back catalogue in a post “Strange Little Birds” world.
From the moment the band stepped into the limelight, they had punters in a frenzy, and man did they gave it everything they had. Every last bit. Unlike other bands who may choose to focus specifically on new material to showcase their latest record, Garbage as a collective gave punters exactly what they wanted. Every single corner of the Garbage fandom walked out of the Hordern extremely happy. Ecstatic really. Opening the show with Stupid Girl the crowd were hooked immediately and as soon as the riff shook through the crowded front rows, individual punters morphed into a mesh of jumping bodies.
Although the majority of the set was a seamless stream of no nonsense hits, there were bouts of specific banter and conversation. In typical Garbage fashion, the boys collectively remained stoic for these particular interludes, but Shirley was fiery but at the same time, oh so relatable, but most of all, she was truly gracious, particularly towards the Australian cohort of the Garbage fan collective. Specifically highlighting the supporting acts on the bill, Olympia and Tiny Little Houses, Shirley commented how she had been following their careers, and threw admiration their way due to their hard work and commitment to the music industry. “I’ve got no time for bands who just sit back” she mused to the crowd. “No f*** that, you’re just like everyone else. I like bands who work”. With every profanity throughout the show, the crowd cheered, appreciating the synonymously unfiltered nature of Shirley’s performance.
During the set, there was also a specific dedication made to members of the LGBTQI community, with Shirley acknowledging their support particularly for being there when “no one else supported us”. She looked out in the crowd, with her eyes cutting through any sort of misguided crap that may have been floating amongst the sea of punters, pointing out; “this is for you” as the intro for Sex Is Not The Enemy rang out through the Pavilion. The band as a whole presented as so incredibly selfless and thankful to be playing to a pool of devoted fans and it seemed that for them, this show wasn’t at all a chance for the band to showcase anything new or to push boundaries musically, the entire performance was specifically for the fans.
Track wise, it really all depended upon which particular side of Garbage you personally gravitated towards the most, as to what your quintessential standouts would surface to be. Many times fans were taken straight back to the 90’s and drawn into the personal anecdotes and the rather broody teenage antics of a young Shirley Manson with When I Grow Up and Only Happy When It Rains. But there were a few tracks from the latest record which saw the band come full circle, as they gravitated towards their more traditional grunge roots. Hits such as Stupid Girl were obviously a standout amongst punters who relished in Garbage delving into the poppier side of the alternative world.
During the performance, Shirley owned every single inch of that stage. Whether this be whilst she was collapsing to the ground, throwing the mic stand around or simply raising her hands in the air cementing her place front and center whilst the boys let their guitars do the talking. And talk they did. During the slower ballads, she also managed to capitalise on the spotlight, drawing the crowd in, recreating the intimacy of performing to a much smaller venue. The interaction between Steve Marker and Shirley was truly a display of nostalgia at its best. Two artists who are clearly still so in love with performing, with both seemingly egging each other on with Shirley at one-point yelling “I know you want to do it, go on, go on do it”, her thick Scottish accent still extremely dominant, delighting fans.
Overall, Garbage kicked off their Australian tour the only way they knew how. A fierce and unapologetic display of nostalgia, wowing the crowd. If you’ve ever found yourself questioning whether Garbage as a collective still have it… They do. This cannot be reiterated enough. Because regardless of the Garbage you love the most, you do not want to miss this show.
Garbage – Hordern Pavilion, Sydney 02/12/16 / Photos: Annette Geneva