Garbage @ Wolverhampton Civic Hall – Monday 2nd July 2012


Review By Woody

I can’t say I’ve heard of tonight’s support act The Jezebels before but I did do some research prior to the show on this female fronted four piece. They are a very atmospheric rock driven band relying more on melody than raw rock power and keyboards,than guitar and so I wasn’t sure that would appeal to tonight’s alt-rock crowd.If I’m honest I was quite impressed, I’ve never hidden my love of atmospheric music, especially when it’s drowned in huge warm melodies. Not sure how the crowd took to it, but as Shirley Manson pointed out later people had ‘tweeted’ alot expressing how they liked the band.

Lead singer Hayley Mary has a very powerful voice and also has a great talent for crafting lush melodies, she is the focal point of the band and sways seductively at the front. From my vantage point on the Civic balcony I also had a great view of keysmith Heather Shannon who is vital to the band’s sound and it’s good to see this acknowledged with her keyboards placed near the front – definitely big thumbs up on Heather’s performance.

They played a short set and we heard ‘EndlessSummer’, ‘City Girl’, ‘Mace Spray’, ‘Tri Colour’ and ‘Hurt Me’.

Garbage have been out of action for seven years and I personally thought the band had run itscourse. Then BAM! out of the blue a UK tour is announced and another shock was this wasn’t a nostalgia tour,  this was the band back in the saddle supporting their new album Not Your Kind of People. All good things come to those who wait…

It’s very hard to pigeonhole the sound of Garbage, I always describe them as an alternative rock band, but because of Butch Vig (drummer)who produced Nirvana’s seminal Nevermind album,I’ve known the band described as grunge, although of all the descriptions I’veheard this is the least accurate. Call them what you will, post grunge, dancealt rock electro pop, one fact remains these guys have a very unique sound and have created some fantastic and memorable songs over the years and, unlike grunge, always doused heavily in melody!

Although I’ve been a fan since their debut single ‘Vow’, and despite the fact they have played locally many times over the years I’ve never actually seen them live. So I was rather excited tonight about finally seeing the band and especially Scottish vocalist Shirley Manson – up close and personal!

It was well worth the wait too as we were treated to a monster two hour long set. Proving that this was no greatest hits tour we were treated to six new songs from Not My Kind Of People, – ‘Control’, latest single ‘Blood For Poppies’, ‘Battle inMe’, ‘Big Bright World’, ‘Automatic Systemic Habit’ and title track ‘Not MyKind Of People’. These songs were left till the second half of the set with the crowd well juiced up and ready to try something new and in general these songs were embraced as equally as the classics. It was really cool to see many in the front row singing every word to every song including the new ones.

I did find the alt rock crowd’s reaction much different to what I’m used to at other gigs – more laid back and not as riotous and funloving as I’m accustomed. There was a good cross section of ages here too frompeople who’d grown up with the band, kerrang kiddies and some much older fans.This cross section is always a good sign if a band wants to be around for more than a few years.

Shirley is a striking front woman but isn’t one for too much between-song-banter although she did come across like a bit of mad woman when it came to the encore! The other band members including DukeErikssen and Steve Marker are not the most expressive performers and seem keen to allow Shirley the full attention of the crowd which she seems to tackle with relish – strutting round the large stage like she owned it with her eccentric dance moves, making her a very intriguing singer to watch.

The band as a whole play faultlessly and revel in the premium sound the Civic gives them. This performance would definitely have won over fair-weather fans and turned them into die hard stalkers! They also manage to balance their set list keeping everyone on their toes and planted all those fans’ favourites liberally throughout the set to get them singing. To be honest there were too many highlights to single one out from ‘I Think I’mParanoid’, a rambunctious ‘Why Do You Love Me’, pop-tastic ‘Cherry Lips’,melody heavy ‘Special’, dance floor filler ‘Push It’ and the amazing ‘Vow’.

We also got ‘Shut Your Mouth’, ‘Supervixen’, ‘MetalHeart’, ‘Queer’, ‘Stupid Girl’, ‘#1 Crush’, ‘The Trick Is Too Keep Breathing’and ‘Bad Boyfriend’.

Another highlight was a new song, and first of the encore, ‘Automatic Systematic Habit’ with its dance inducing energy and lush melodic chorus. Obviously it was tonight’s closer that got the biggest reaction from the crowd and seemed to light up more than those towards the front. Ofcourse it was their first major hit from their debut album ‘Only Happy When ItRains’ which without doubt sent this large Monday night crowd home with satisfied smiles.

Another great night out in Wolvo and I don’t thinkthis is the last time I’ll be popping round to see Garbage!