Based on the Garbage model, every midcareer rock band would be well advised to become exhausted and miserable, bottom out creatively, and break up. Garbage returned this year on the heels of personal and professional upheaval with an inspired new album, the well-titled ''Bleed Like Me," and a live show brimming with the survivor's heady mix of ferocity and gratitude.
As the band launched into set-opener ''Queer" on Sunday, Shirley Manson commandeered Avalon with the whites of her eyes. She stalked invisible prey on ''Bad Boyfriend," pacing in circles to drummer Butch Vig's apocalyptic clatter, and prowled the edges of the stage -- and a world of deviant possibilities -- as ''Supervixen." Manson is one of those brilliantly natural frontwomen who requires neither stylist nor choreographer and makes you wonder where all the rock chicks have gone. Her bandmates -- Vig, guitarists/keyboardists Steve Marker and Duke Erikson, and touring bassist Erik Avery (Jane's Addiction) -- were comparably bodacious, matching her dark vocals with pristine swaths of noise and melody.
Garbage's three main instrumentalists began their musical careers as producers (Vig, most famously, for Nirvana), and this is the rare rock group that can successfully blur the line between technical gloss and brute passion. ''Why Do You Love Me," one of a handful of new songs the band played, showcased the group's surprisingly seamless shift from electronic underpinnings to beefy guitars.
Garbage is rejuvenated, and the deep pleasure of rediscovering one's spark colored the band's entire catalog. The cutting ebullience with which Garbage attacked the new anthem ''Sex Is Not the Enemy" juiced up fan favorites like ''Stupid Girl," ''Vow," ''Push It," and ''Only Happy When It Rains." The title track of the new CD -- a model of quiet, coiled agony that details a litany of self-destructive behaviors and hostile confrontations -- was the first song Garbage wrote after deciding to regroup and forge ahead. Fittingly, the song felt like a juncture, eerily measured, both a monument to the past and portal to the future.
Joan Anderman can be reached at email@example.com