Back in 2015, Garbage honored the 20th anniversary of their debut album with a remastered deluxe reissue, and they embarked on a celebratory tour dubbed the 20 Years Queer tour. Last year marked another milestone. 2018 was the 20th anniversary of their sophomore album, 1998’s Version 2.0, and the band decided to give it the same attention as their debut. They released a remastered deluxe reissue of Version 2.0, and added a run of tour dates in the UK, followed by a fall tour of the US. Now the band have brought their 20 Years Paranoid tour back for a spring run through the US before returning to Europe for a series of summer dates. We caught the band on the second night of the tour at the Ritz in Raleigh NC.
Holding down the unenviable position of opening for an iconic band like Garbage fell to Greek American musician, composer, and artist Ioanna Gika. Ioanna, who was a founding member of indie rock band Io Echo with Leopold Ross, is no stranger to supporting iconic bands, having already supported the likes of Nine Inch Nails and New Order. On the current run with Garbage, she is highlighting songs from her recently released debut solo album, Thalassa. Gika’s set was built around songs that were delicate and emotive, leaning toward an almost neo-classical pop feel. Everything swirled around her voice that was both powerful and fragile in equal measures. Unfortunately, the crowd tended to be less than accommodating and at times the noise from the floor threatened to overwhelm some of the quieter ethereal soundscapes.
After the slow burn of the opening set, anticipation was quickly ramping up in the room, and the crowd exploded as Garbage hit the stage and kicked off with “Control,” from 2012’s Not Your Kind of People. The opener was a bit of a curveball for anyone expecting the show to be completely anchored in songs from Version 2.0. What followed was an eclectic mix of hits and deeper album cuts that pulled from across their catalog, as well as a healthy dose of songs from Version 2.0. Garbage frontwoman Shirley Manson has always been the charismatic force drawing attention on stage, and this show was no exception. Whether pacing around the stage, belting out songs with her still powerful voice, or being chatty and charming the crowd with her humorous and heartfelt banter between songs, Shirley grabbed the audience and held them in the palm of her hand. But it was Steve Marker on lead guitar, Duke Erikson providing rhythm guitar, producer and drummer Butch Vig, and touring bassist Eric Avery who provided the sonic foundation that supported Manson and anchored the songs.
The show provided interesting gems for casual fans as well as the dedicated community who have followed the band for years. While hits like “Stupid Girl,” “Special,” “Push It,” and “Only Happy When It Rains,” were delivered with a committed vigor that had the crowd cheering and grooving along, its was the deeper, lesser known songs that made for the memorable moments. Highlights included the moody angst-ridden new single “No Horses,” “Parade” from 2001’s Beautiful Garbage, a rare run through “On Fire,” the B-side to 2015 single “The Chemicals,” and a pulsating version of “Wicked Ways” that included a brief foray into “Personal Jesus” by Depeche Mode.
Garbage, while looking back on a glittering history and honoring past achievements, showed that they are still committed to delivering a high-energy performance.
Garbage + Ioanna Gika @ The Ritz
Photos © Dan Kulpa // Clashdan Photography