Review: Garbage's Triumphant Return to the Showbox SoDo, Seattle

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Whatever else you may think about Shirley Manson, she’s never boring. Even her role on the ill-fated Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles – while it was often clumsy, poorly-scripted, and utterly beyond belief – still managed to entertain from episode to episode. And her return to Seattle after a too-long hiatus last night… well, that just put the bittersweet icing on the cake.

The SoDo has a checkered reputation among Seattle music fans, but none of the problems associated with the venue were in evidence when Garbage took to the stage. The room’s acoustics seemed to perfectly suit their pop-punk-electro sound, and it’s hard to think of another venue in the city that could have accommodated such a frenzied mob of fans. In Garbage the SoDo might have found its soul-mate.

As for the music itself, Shirley Manson ruled the stage from start to finish, strutting like a rather pissed-off goth android sent from the future to kill the latest winner of American Idol. With her hair piled in a terrifying tower on top of her head, she launched into what would have been a strenuous workout routine for a lesser mortal, stalking, gyrating and thrusting with every beat from Butch Vig’s expansive kit. The setlist inevitably promoted material from their latest album, Not Your Kind of People, but there were plenty of older favorites for the long-term fans too, including a searing rendition of ‘Stupid Girl’ and a trippy sing-along version of ‘Queer’. And if ‘Push It’ sounded like a punked-up Spice Girls cover, it somehow still worked in its favor. Maybe Manson should have auditioned to be the angry, borderline-psychotic sixth Spice Girl.

If I’ve made Manson sound as if she’s all spit and bile, however, then I’ve done her a disservice. Interrupting the set to apologize for cancelling the Seattle show on their last tour, she seemed genuine, relaxed, and brimful of confidence from thundering start to sweaty finish. When Garbage first appeared on the scene some people wrote them off as being a manufactured indie hit, all image and no soul. If we still needed proof, their SoDo show provided it. However trashy Garbage may be, they’re anything but disposable.

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