16 years on, Garbage still holds the Fort

American alternative-rock band Garbage, who have had hit songs like Stupid Girl and Only Happy When It Rains in the late 1990s, will play their first Singapore gig since 1996.

Artist: Garbage

Venue: Fort Canning Park

Attendance: 3,000

When: Tuesday

Singer Shirley Manson quipped - in her native Scottish accent - that it had been far too long since Garbage's last Singapore performance in 1996.

"It was the first time we had played a show where we were like, 'We're rock stars!' " she said of that gig on Tuesday night, after opening Garbage's 95 minute second gig here with a new song and an old one - The One and I Think I'm Paranoid (from their 1998 sophomore album, Version 2.0).

For long-time fans who fell in love with the American alt-rock band back in the 1990s, this rousing concert offered a timely update on Garbage's ongoing musical journey by promoting their fifth studio album, this year's Not Your Kind Of People.

Manson described this new release, which came after a seven-year sabbatical, as a "declaration of love" that brought the band back together.

While not everyone in the audience was familiar with the new tracks, there was no denying that the melodies are catchy, which made great fodder for live interpretations.

With brassy gusto, the band turned out their new singles - like Blood For Poppies, Battle In Me and Control - which were laden with electronics and heavy guitar riffs.

Manson's bandmates - drummer and legendary producer Butch Vig, 57, as well as Duke Erikson, 61, and Steve Marker, 53, who provided bass, guitars and keyboards between them - were happy to let her bask in the limelight.

And she charmed with her sterling vocals, friendly banter and versatile dance moves that sometimes had her writhing on the stage floor.

Dressed in a figure-hugging bodysuit with her red hair coiled in a bun, Manson was a tease onstage when delivering sultry slow numbers - such as the trip-hop-infused Milk (1996) - or provoking fans with lyrics like "you can touch me if you want" on the slinky Queer (1995).

It was no surprise that their older hits, like Stupid Girl (1996), Push It (1998) and Only Happy When It Rains (1995), found strong resonance with the audience.

This made their three-song encore - which included their latest album's title track and a new song, Automatic Systematic Habit - seem to pale in comparison.

However, what was clear was the fact that the 45-year-old singer can still hold the fort as an iconic vocalist whom one could not peel one's eyes or ears from, while her comrades ran a tight ship with technically flawless accompaniments that made this gig resonate with what seemed like CD-quality studio perfection.


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