3/31/13 Easter Sunday
House of Blues – Cleveland, OH
I usually like to cover unheard-of local bands in this blog, but every now and again the planets align and I’m given the opportunity to see a great national act at a great venue. Why wouldn’t I jump at the chance to see Garbage at the House of Blues? They’re one of the greatest nineties bands ever, they sang the theme to a James Bond film (which puts them in the same space as Tina Turner, Duran Duran, Carly Simon and Sir Paul McCartney) and they were playing in a mid-sized club as opposed to an arena. Of course I was going to this show!
The House of Blues is a great venue and a far cry from the dives I’m used to. Not only do the bathroom stalls have doors, but there’s an attendant in there to offer you a paper towel. And the crowd is slightly more well-to-do than those I usually mingle with. While I did see a few Heavy Metal t-shirts, most of the crow was dressed in the stylish manner I associate with well paying jobs. I did see quite a few miniskirts and knee-high boots, but all the girls wore them in the sophisticated manner that Shirley Manson wore the outfit herself without coming off as slutty or cheap.
I was unsure what to make of Io ECHO. When I checked them out on Spotify the night before I immediately heard similarities to Nena (you know, “99 Red Balloons”) but other songs revealed a darker, sophisticated sound. They meld eastern melodies and sounds with new wave and do it pretty damn well. Their set was short but fun. Singer Ioanna Gika looked white trashy in her t-shirt and kimono while busting down the stage props and I couldn’t help but smile as I bobbed my head to their unique sound. “Ministry of Love” is a great song that I urge you all to check out.
While waiting for Garbage I heard several men holler “Shirleeeeyyy!” which made me feel a little better about the schoolboy crush I used to have for the redheaded singer. Then they walked on stage and I realized that I still had it. The band blasted through songs and proved themselves as adept at live performance as they are at production. While they look like a bunch of dorks (Butch Vig could easily pass for Jim Gordon while Duke Erikson could be Tom Green with male pattern baldness) they tore through songs with the ease and vigor of bands half their age and Manson worked the crowd like the old pro she is.
I was most impressed with the way certain songs differed from their recordings. Specifically “Queer” and “#1 Crush.” Both recordings feature vocal melodies performed by guitar in the live setting. It makes sense since there’s only so much a human voice can do. I was very impressed with the way Erikson’s and Steve Marker’s guitars wove together throughout the night. It was nearly impossible to tell one from the other at times and they were greatly complimented by touring bassist Eric Avery – formerly of Jane’s Addiction.
I was a little disappointed by the complete lack of a mosh pit. Sure, Garbage is a bit more poppy than a lot of the bands I see (my companion pronounced this show his ‘First rock show’) but I thought there could have been a little more movement during songs like “Why Do You Love Me” and “Only Happy When It Rains.” Honestly, I think I just wanted it to be a little easier for me to push my way to the front of the crowd. And boy oh boy did Shirley Manson talk a lot. I’ll forgive her because even in that thick Scottish accent I could understand what she had to say better than I can understand some of my fellow countrymen on the mic.
I was also disappointed to not hear them perform “The World is Not Enough” or “It’s All Over But The Crying” but you cant have it all. I was treated to 21 great songs and after seeing so many local acts it’s really nice to see some professionals. And the next time I see them they’ll probably be in an arena opening for Foo Fighters or Nine Inch Nails so I’ll take the positives over the negatives. It was a great show and probably a once in a life time opportunity to see a band that big in a venue that small.
If you enjoyed this post you may also enjoy “Notes on Bleach”