7th September | Ashton Gate
Photos: Michael Brumby
Looking like the replicant played by Daryl Hannah in the original Blade Runner film, with an orange stripe of war-paint eye-make-up complementing her frizzy shock of orange hair, Shirley Manson rolls back the years with a bravura performance at Ashton Gate. This second gig of Garbage’s 20 Years Paranoid three-month international tour is a celebration of twenty years since the release of their second album, 1998’s chart-topping Version 2.0, and sees the four-piece playing the futuristic cyberpunk of the record in its entirety.
It’s a blast from the past that passes the test of time. An atmospheric black sparkler of a performance, with Manson’s joie-de-vivre at being here evident from much between-song banter. Tracks from the album are reordered in sequence and peppered about with the band’s B-sides from that era, along with gems that influenced them, as with the re-release of the album to coincide with this tour. So we get a melange of the sonically edgy and addictively more-ish, a cinematic score of collision and well-structured chaos.
Opening with the simmering prowl of b-sides ‘Afterglow’ and ‘Deadwood’, the first track of the album proper hits us with the poppy power of ‘Temptation Waits’. There’s a sultry power to Manson’s vocals, which soar above the pulse and melodic groove of songs like ‘Wicked Ways’ and ‘Special’, and a garage-rock sensibility pulsing through tracks such as ’13x Forever’ and the stuttering drama of ‘I Think I’m Paranoid’.
And the drama becomes pure torch with their 1999 Bond theme tune, ‘The World Is Not Enough’, demonstrating how their brand of outsider- or even mongrel-pop managed to infiltrate the mainstream. They cover Big Star’s ‘Thirteen’ and The Seeds’ rare 60s psychedelic garage ‘Can’t Seem To Make You Mine’. Numbers are interspersed with voice-overs from, appropriately, Blade Runner and 2001: A Space Odyssey, adding to that sci-fi vibe that Garbage project. In this vein they encore with Bowie’s ‘Starman’, rather than their massive hit, ‘Stupid Girl’, as expected.
Manson went to the States from her native Edinburgh in the 90s to collaborate in a studio project by producers Butch Vig, Steve Marker and Duke Erikson, and stayed. The seeds of that union still reverberate with some kick to this day as can be seen here.
More reverberation than there is likely to be in the same period of time for support The Horrors, it would seem. They were all PVC and angular haircuts, derivative of so much 80s/90s pop with nothing that original to show for it. Honeyblood, on the other hand, the Glasgow duo, showed sparklingly tenacious grit. Tenacious grit that was mirrored with so much experience and attitude by their fellow Scot, Manson, later on.