PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — “Here we are in the city of brotherly love” proclaimed Garbage songstress Shirley Manson after the band’s first rush of songs Wednesday night at The Mann Center For The Performing Arts in Philadelphia.
“This is the city I fell in love with when I grew up on the tiny little island of Scotland.”
Manson’s love was loud and coaxing as she won over the still gathering crowd for an early set. Garbage took to the stage first for their co-headlining Rage And Rapture tour with Blondie, but left their mark in unshakable fashion.
With electric red hair, star stockings and a shimmering silver dress, Manson slinked across the stage with absolute authority. Her only pause from swallowing the audience whole and using every inch of the floor was to weave in nostalgic stories about strong women rockers, the dream of America, and the joys of Debbie Harry.
It’s “the greatest summer camp you could ever dream of” she exclaimed about her trip with the iconic band.
The Garbage performance doubled as a birthday party for band architect and drummer Butch Vig. A cake was brought out as the crowd sang to the sixty-two year old.
Even before the candles came out you couldn’t escape the art of age with these two iconic front women.
I never had the pleasure of seeing Debbie Harry at age fifty, but I witnessed Shirley Manson teach a master class in hitting a half-century.
With boundless energy she thrived and writhed in manners some twenty-something singers wouldn’t dare. She crawled across cords as she sung “Stupid Girl”, and locked hands with the front row for “I Think I’m Paranoid”.
Manson was most impressive though after an enthused hour of music had already taken its toll. As the set wound down, the crowd was completely compelled to watch as she laid flat on the stage, rolling from her stomach to her back, spent by passion and seemingly trying to get a little of the night on every inch of her skin.
She bounced back up with a boxer’s bob and weave and their searing set came to a close.
Blondie was never going to beat that.
Debbie Harry is a special kind of trail blazing icon. As Manson wears fifty better than most, Harry seems to swim in seventy-two like no one else either. That doesn’t mean audience acrobatics and dance moves, it means wearing bee glasses and a cape over her smart oxford button-down and khaki pants.
It’s a cool grandmotherly vibe – the one that went to Woodstock and has seen some things. It’s the vibe of someone dressed like Diane Keaton but her cape says “Stop F***ing The Planet”.
The band, infused with some new blood, was tight and made sure to make room for classics like “Call Me” and “Heart Of Glass” beside their latest batch of tunes. They shined the brightest as “Rapture” pulsated across a grooving crowd. Harry still eats bars and cars like a legend.
The Rage And Rapture Tour wraps its U.S. run in Dallas next week. For more from Garbage, check out our interview with Shirley Manson from last month.