Garbage – Still full of attitude and energy

20 years on from their first show at den Atelier, Garbage were back on Tuesday night and with it much of the energy that launched them back in the mid 90s.

With the release of their self titled debut album back in 1995, Garbage broke onto the scene right in the middle of Britpop, bringing with them an angst-grunge element combined with melodic pop choruses which set them apart from the rest.

With over 17 million album sales, a couple of Grammy nominations, as well as a Bond theme tune to their name, Garbage had done it all before they took a seven-year hiatus in the mid 2000s, returning in 2012 with “Not Your Kind of People”. This gave them a desire once more, leading to the imminent release of their sixth studio album “Strange Little Birds” next week.

Support last night came from female two piece The Pearl Hearts who packed quite a punch with their rock and heavy blues groove. These support dates with Garbage are their first shows in Europe but by last night’s evidence, I’m sure they won’t be their last. With a bit more swagger & attitude they’ll be tearing up venues like this on their own soon and they couldn’t have a better mentor than Shirley Manson to show them the ropes.

Garbage wasted no time in introducing their loyal fan base to their new record by opening up the night with dark brooding track “Sometimes”, with the lights low, keeping the band in the shadows and the pulsating bass it was an atmospheric start that I wasn’t expecting but very much a welcome one. It didn’t take long to up the energy as they went into “Empty” their first single off the new record, which took them to the grunge sound we’ve come to expect of Garbage. It’s also here where we were reminded just how charismatic a frontwoman Shirley Manson is, taking control of the stage like any good lead singer should.

As well as an introduction to the new album there were plenty of Garbage classics from the ever present “Stupid Girl” to “Only Happy When it Rains” which induced some 90s nostalgia with their grunge pop hooks. But Garbage were always more than the hits, they had more vulnerability and attitude than most from the Britpop era, something they continue to channel today.

One of Manson’s personal favourites, the slow almost chant like “Bleed Like Me” took the evenings tempo down a notch before lifting us back up once more with “Sex is Not the Enemy”, its punk groove leading to Manson bounding around the stage with a beaming smile.

Later Manson went on to discuss her recent spat with a Radio1 DJ in the UK, as they refused to play them because Manson is over 40, which appears to be a misguided policy the station holds. With the energy and attitude Manson still produces she could teach most people half her age a lesson on the artistry she has honed over the years, she’s much more engaging and charismatic than most out there.

Whether it was new or old, each song was performed with the vigour we have come to expect from them, giving us more off the new album on the encore with “Even Though Our Love is Doomed” before finishing on the light hearted bubble-gum funk of “Cherry Lips (Go Baby Go!).

With few bands having survived the 90s, and even fewer still releasing and producing music today, it’s refreshing to see that Garbage are still making music that is as relevant today as it ever was. Here’s hoping other stations aren’t as ageist as Radio1 and help the new singles get to as many people as possible.

31.05.16 – den Atelier

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