“We’re now going to play another song you’ve probably never heard before. You forgive me though, right?” Shirley Manson of Garbage underlining one of the themes of the night for their “20 Years Paranoid” tour, which made a stop at the Grand Theatre at Grand Sierra Resort & Casino in Reno on Tuesday. The band is celebrating the twentieth anniversary of their second album, Version 2.0, by touring a set list that features them playing the album in its entirety as well as very rare B-sides and just a handful of songs beyond the scope of that period of their career. I’ve seen the band on most of their tours since they reunited and began recording and performing again after a long hiatus, and really it seems like they do something really different each time they come around. Even I was unfamiliar with some of the songs played (many were rarities originally limited to B-side releases in the late ’90s), but I am catching up now with their newly released 20th Anniversary Deluxe Edition / Remastered version of their album. Shirley was pretty chatty and candid with the crowd in-between songs and it felt like quite a special show. I really enjoyed it and it reminded me of what a stellar band they are live, and it provided some additional insights into what makes the band tick and what motivates them as artists. It’s really worth catching up with them on this tour, even for casual fans. One of the most unique bands of my generation, always staying true to themselves and keeping things interesting.
What: 20 Years Paranoid
Venue: Grand Theatre at Grand Sierra Resort & Casino
Where: Reno, Nevada
Promoter: Grand Theatre at Grand Sierra Resort & Casino
When: October 2, 2018
Seating: (photo pass first three songs front of house; seat Section CC, Row H, Seat 11)
The Grand Theatre at the Grand Sierra Resort and Casino in Reno remains one of my very favorite venues, and increasingly they have brought out more and more quality shows since their renovation back in 2015.
The concert venue is built around a one acre large stage (one of the largest in the world) that from 1978 to 1987 was host to MGM’s “Hello Hollywood Hello”.
The entire venue has been redesigned, with a standing room-only GA floor space in front of the very wide and deep stage (though with some artists and shows, the GA area is replaced with assigned seating). The venue also features theater-style seating going up to the back of the venue. There is also special VIP seating areas up higher on the far sides of the two walls.
The venue also has some of the best concert lighting and sound around. I’ve never been disappointed in either, and lights and sound was excellent for this concert.
As with my past experiences, the staff at Grand Sierra Resort impress. I attend a lot of concerts, and the staff at the GSR are consistently very friendly and professional. I give the venue my highest recommendations!
Doors opened at around 6:30. It was “an evening with…” style show with no supporting artists or DJ. Garbage came on at around 7:45 and played until almost 9:45, soit was nearly a two hour long performance.
- Duke Erikson (guitar, bass guitar, keyboards)
- Shirley Manson (vocals, guitar)
- Steve Marker (guitars)
- Butch Vig (drums, percussion)
- Eric Avery (touring on bass guitar)
I usually conclude with a note of the setlist for the show, but in this case it is really the framework of the whole thing, so I’m putting it up front here (along with my notes of the origins of each song as originally released)…
- “Afterglow” (B-Side for “I Think I’m Paranoid”)
- “Deadwood” (B-Side for “I Think I’m Paranoid”)
- “Temptation Waits” (Version 2.0)
- “Wicked Ways” [with partial cover of Depeche Mode’s “Personal Jesus”] (Version 2.0)
- “Special” (Version 2.0)
- “The World Is Not Enough” (Theme Song from the James Bond film, 1999)
- “13x Forever” (B-Side for “Push It”)
- “Get Busy With the Fizzy” (B-Side for “You Look So Fine”)
- “Hammering in My Head” (Version 2.0)
- “Medication” (Version 2.0)
- “Thirteen” [Big Star cover] (B-Side for “Push It”)
- “Can’t Seem to Make You Mine” [The Seeds cover] (B-Side to “When I Grow Up” and “The Trick Is to Keep Breathing”)
- “I Think I’m Paranoid” (Version 2.0)
- “Sleep Together” (Version 2.0)
- “Dumb” (Version 2.0)
- “Soldier Through This” (B-Side for “You Look So Fine”)
- “Lick the Pavement” (B-Side for “Push It”)
- “Push It” (Version 2.0)
- “When I Grow Up” (Version 2.0)
- “You Look So Fine” (Version 2.0)
- “The Trick Is to Keep Breathing” (Version 2.0)
- “No Horses” (Single Released in 2017)
- “Cherry Lips (Go Baby Go!)” (Beautiful Garbage)
I don’t really think of Garbage as a “hits” band, but it is pretty brave to embark on a tour like this and not play a large portion of the most popular songs from your catalog and career. As a fan of the band who is not what I would say is a “hard core” fan (i.e. those who count the band as their very favorite of all music artists – there are many in this group) but I am one that grew up with their work in real time (I was in college in the 90’s), and as one who has seen them live quite a few times. This format and setlist totally worked for me. I thought it was a really unique experience, and it actually piqued my interest in some of these songs that aren’t familiar for me to go back and give a listen to the studio recordings via the newly released and remastered Version 2.0 with the bonus songs included.
They also did similar treatment in 2015 with a reissue of their first album and related “20 Years Queer” tour, but maybe I was just more familiar with those songs and that album front to back.
I’ve given a lot of background on the band in general, and my subjective feelings on them and the 90s as well in my coverage of past shows and tours, which you can check out below:
- Garbage at The Masonic in San Francisco, California on 9/24/2016
- Garbage (20 Years Queer Tour) at Fox Theater in Oakland, California on 10/7/2015
- Garbage at The Pearl Concert Theater at The Palms in Las Vegas, Nevada on 4/12/2013
- Garbage at The Warfield in San Francisco, California on 10/1/12
- Garbage at The Pearl at The Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas, Nevada on 4/14/12
I missed their 2017 tour with Blondie as I wasn’t approved for photography by Blondie that time around.
They’ve released two new studio albums since reforming, 2012’s , Not Your Kind of People which I absolutely loved and 2016’s Strange Little Birds which I didn’t personally connect with (a bit too dark and joyless for me).
The only new song played in the concert this week was “No Horses”, which was from neither of the newer albums but was a single the band put out last year. Somehow I completely missed this release, so I heard it for the first time live at this show. Wow, what an incredible song. I really love this song – I’d rank it now as one of my favorite Garbage songs. It was in the middle of their encore at this show. I actually even loved the live version better than the studio recording. It had a ton of intensity and emotion.
The only other non-Version 2.0 era song performed was the show closer, “Cherry Lips (Go Baby Go!)”, which is one of my favorites. In preface to the performance of that song, Shirley said, “This is a song that goes out to all the Garbage fans… who have stuck with us through thick and thin. You’re a bunch of fucking weirdos. This one is for all of you, with our love…” A perfect way to end the evening.
One of the surprises of the night, for me, was a snippet of Depeche Mode’s “Personal Jesus” incorporated into “Wicked Ways”. Depeche Mode actually is my all-time favorite band, so that was quite amazing to hear Garbage’s take on one of their songs.
Also interesting throughout the night is the incorporation of some dialogue from films interspersed in-between songs… I didn’t recognize all of these, but I know I heard snippets from Blade Runner, Natural Born Killers, and I think Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind?
In addition to the unique setlist, Garbage always has a new visual presentation with each tour, and this time around it was with Shirley featured up front with more lighting and the rest of the guys generally holding down the back of the stage, mostly in silhouette and backlit/high contrast. I thought Shirely’s outfit was fantastic, along with a Missing Person’s style mask of make-up across her eyes.
As mentioned, Shirely was a bit chatty throughout the show (which I always love) and I made notes of some of her most interesting quotes of the evening.
In preface to playing The World Is Not Enough:
For those of you who don’t know who we are, our name is Garbage. That will work for you no matter how this evening works out. We like to please.
In asking one of the crew to bring her a drink:
Sometimes you just need a little grease on the wheel… right? So I’m going to play you a song now – and I’ve said this the entire tour – this is the only party song we have ever written. If you are familiar with us at all, we don’t really do parties. And I am not a party girl. Even though sometimes my husband does call me party girl. I’m about as un-party as it gets. However… a long, long time ago, 20 years ago to be precise, I deemed to write a party song, along with my band. ‘Cause my band loved to party, as it turns out. Duke Erikson [cheers] is a professional party boy. Steve Marker, not so much [laughs]. Butch used to be a party boy. And now he aint it all. So, as a means together, as a band, we can kind of get it up once every 20 years. And you’re about to experience the only party record in Garbage history. It’s called “Get Busy With the Fizzy”.
Shirley’s summary of the format of this tour:
Maybe I should explain to the audience actually what the fuck’s going on here tonight. ‘Cause I get the feeling, that perhaps, everyone here – who we’re very grateful to have by the way – isn’t necessarily familiar with this material. So, we are a band who are lucky enough to have been around for a ridiculous amount of time. And we emerged in the mid-90s, which is almost hard to remember that far back. And I have to confess, when I first started writing with the band, I thought we’d last maybe six months if we were lucky. So we’re now 25 years as a band. [cheers] If you’re familiar with the music industry, this is somewhat of a miracle. When we emerged in the ’90s, no one ever thought we would be the ones to survive. Now the problem is, we did. What to everyone’s surprise, even our own. So we are currently celebrating our second record, which came out in… 1997? We don’t know when it came out. Well hold on. It’s 2018, so it came out in 1998; God I’m brilliant. It came out in 1998, it was our second record. And it was an enormous moment for us because we’d had our success with our debut and then this record came out and it sort of solidified our presence in the world. We got to travel all over the world, and it was magnificent and wild. And that’s why we decided we’ve got to do a short tour to celebrate our good fortune. And the problem is for our fans, who are long suffering I have to say… We are playing songs that even our hardcore fans don’t know. So this is a complicated set. We appreciate your attention and hanging with us. ‘Cause we’re playing songs that were released on 7″ vinyl. Can any of you remember that? [cheers] Oh happy days! We released them on 7″ vinyl. They were called B-sides. And unfortunately B-sides don’t really exist that much anymore. Or occasionally they do if you’re a vinyl lover and you’re in a band. Anyway these songs came out in the UK only and they’re very obscure, so your patience in much appreciated.
In preface to “Soldier Through This” (also mentioning this was their first visit to Reno):
Thank you so much for making this a memorable night for us. We are now going to reward you for your patience with a song you’ve never heard before… it’s a really good song though. So I feel like we’re justified!
An emerging theme as the concert went on…
As I said earlier on, some days are better than others. And if you can improve your situation, let’s improve our situation…
Shirley, as candid as ever:
Thank you so, so much… I’m gonna let you into a little secret. I had a really bad attitude coming in tonight. We were told all kinds of things before we came in here and it’s a long story, it’s part of the business, but… The amazing thing about tonight… I’m 52 years old; I continue to learn… [cheers] … it that you cannot predict anything. And you have to come to each occasion with an open minds, and I didn’t. And you have shocked me and surprised me. Thank you so much on behalf of me, and Steve Marker, and… [overcome with applause] Alright we’re going to play you another sad song. We like sad song; I don’t know what to tell you. There’s a lot of happy songs on the radio and on streaming services and so on and so forth, so I feel like you will indulge us with a sad song. ‘Cause sad songs are kind of, I don’t know, they’re kind of unfashionable currently. Personally speaking, when I’m really up against it, all I want to do is listen to sad songs. So this song goes out to anybody here tonight who’s having a hard time, who’s not feeling so good, who’s feeling a little wretched… take it from me, you don’t know what’s around the corner; you don’t know what awaits you tomorrow… this is called “The Trick Is to Keep Breathing”.
My favorite quote of the night…
It’s somewhat ironic coming from a band who are currently playing an anniversary tour, but we’re not particularly nostalgic. And to be quite frank, I have no desire to go back to be 30 years old. None. Zero. And there’s a lovely girl in the audience tonight who’s so young. And I just want to tell you: things get better. It’s really hard being young. Being young is a nightmare and nobody tells you that, right? Being young is a fucking nightmare. You’re supposed to feel really fucked up and weird. Just so you know. You’re a baby. That’s a baby to me. I’m more than double your age. So my point being is always look forward. Do not look back. Go to the adventures. Don’t look to the past. It doesn’t serve you well. Go around the corner. And then carry on…
I love that their music can be darker… yet Shirley is guided in part by a philosophy of optimism about the future, however unknown it might be.
Like I said, a really special night and tour – I loved all of it.
Below are some photos of Garbage performing on stage (scroll downward and photos will begin to appear – click any image to open a virtual lightroom with higher resolution versions of each photo). Photos were taken from Front of House first three songs as well as a few iPhone photos here and there…