Nineteen years and nine months after we saw Garbage tour their eponymous debut album, Cathy and I went to Manchester last Friday to join in celebrating the album's 20th anniversary.
We've been to the Manchester Academy before to see the Tragically Hip. That room was a terrible venue. This room was bigger. But was also terrible.
The support were a band called Dutch Uncles. We missed half their set but I don't think we really missed anything. They were one of those bands you know will never be big as soon as you've heard one song with it's unnecessary tinkly piano in it. Most of their embellishments sounded like something that's been added because that's what proper musicians do.
(It was depressing looking around and realising the audience were probably all the same age as me and, wow, how old we've all grown.)
The idea behind this tour was they would play the songs off the first album and the b-sides they recorded around then. They played the entire first song - a b-side called Subhuman - backlit behind a sheet so it was like watching a shadow puppet show. I was a bit worried they'd do that all night, maybe as a way of preventing people from seeing how haggard Shirley Manson had gotten, but they dropped the curtain for Supervixen, which was the first track on the album and has a crashing intro. It's a great song to open a set with.
Shirley didn't look too bad considering she's pushing 50 and has lived rock and roll for about thirty years. What I noticed is that she really benefits from being in a band with three producers. She mumbles and shouts rather than singing. She also likes to talk drunk nonsense at the audience. We had two different stories about how she met the other members of the band for the first time. She went on for ages about what a wonderful musical city Manchester is, which, well, yeah, a lot of bands have come from there, but the repeated statements about what a great city it was got a bit boring after a while.
The gig took a while to get going but when they played Only Happy When it Rains, Stupid Girl and Vow the audience were bouncing along. Unfortunately they were the last three songs of the main set-list. Continuing the Manchester theme, they tried to work a bit of I Am the Resurrection by the Stone Roses into the end of Vow to end the show. It didn't really work.
The final song of the encore was great - When I Grow Up from the second album. There were a couple more b-sides before that though. And a song from their 2012 album, which somehow I'd missed. Apparently they have a new album out next year and they promised to tour again. I'd think twice about travelling so far to see them but if they play closer to home, then I might.
Overall it's one of those gigs that I'm glad I went to, more for the nostalgia and to say I've been rather than because it was a transcendental experience or anything.
Full set-list, because we have wikis for this sort of thing now. Huzzah.
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