Garbage – Manchester Academy 1, Manchester (9th September 2018)

Headed by iconic front woman Shirley Manson, Garbage made their debut in the early 90s with their hugely successful self-titled album. It’s now been 20 years since the release of their follow up, ‘Version 2.0’, and what better way to celebrate than with a ’20 Years Paranoid’ anniversary tour! 

True to their word (aka Shirley’s tweets leading up to the tour) the set list revolved around the album and it’s B Sides, with the stunning duo of ‘Afterglow’ and ‘Deadwood’ from their ‘I Think I’m Paranoid’ single kicking off proceedings, before they burst into the anthemic ‘Temptation Waits’. The unruly ‘Wicked Ways’ followed, showcasing the genius of Butch Vig, Steve Marker, Duke Erikson and Eric Avery as it morphed into Depeche Mode’s ‘Personal Jesus’ and back again – a creative move that they repeated later in the set with ‘You Look So Fine’ and Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Dreams’. When it comes to rhythm sections, Eric and Butch are quite the dream team and the scuzzy nature of ‘Dumb’ in particular highlighted that. 

Sporting orange war paint across her eyes and dressed in an oversized t-shirt, fishnets and boots, Shirley lived up to her reputation as being the epitome of cool. Sharing anecdotes from the recording of ‘Version 2.0’ between tracks and repeatedly thanking the crowd for their support, her realness is admirable. Now “52 and proud of it” (rightly so), Shirley paced furiously around the stage throughout tracks, racing from side to side to interact with the crowd and grinning from ear to ear at the sheer volume of the sing-along during the hits ‘Special’ and ‘I Think I’m Paranoid’ above all. 

The stunning yet heartbreaking ‘Medication’ evoked emotion both on and offstage, sitting alongside ‘The World Is Not Enough’ as the two tracks in which Shirley’s striking vocals and the quintessential Garbage sound provided by the rest of the band proved that they can still make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. Sounding huge as its instantly recognisable intro began, you could have heard a pin drop during ‘The World Is Not Enough’; a total contrast to the distorted and empowering ’13x Forever’ that followed.

Towards the end of the show, when you’d expect energy levels to be low, the bustling ‘Push It’ saw Shirley bouncing up and down throughout, dancing around her bandmates and never missing a lyric with her flawless delivery. When the time came for them to depart the stage, they wasted no time and rather than keep the crowd waiting, came straight back on to perform ‘The Trick Is To Keep Breathing’ and a sublime cover of David Bowie’s ‘Starman’. Through tears, Shirley thanked the crowd for a final time, as well as her band mates and it was heartwarming to see that the bond between them is evidently still growing after all of these years.

It’s hard to believe that we’re celebrating the 20th anniversary of ‘Version 2.0’ and to say that it’s aged well would be a huge understatement. The tracks sounded fresher than ever and touring it in its entirety was definitely the right decision!