Garbage | Civic Hall | Wolverhampton | 2 Jul 2012

Loud, Grungy, GREAT...

Returning from their seven year career hiatus, Garbage wasted no time in reminding us what we had been missing in that time - a maelstrom of smart grunge-rock guitar but with sufficient pop tinges to keep things melodic.

Despite having a new album "Not Your Kind Of People" to promote, the band were more than happy to pump out a string of classic Garbage songs to an audience clearly delighted to have them back on stage.

Opening their performance with "Supervixen", the first song of their 1995 debut album, was an early indicator that this was going to be a crowd pleasing, career spanning set and following this up with the superb "I Think I'm Paranoid", "Shut Your Mouth" and "Metal Heart" from each of their succeeding albums made it obvious.

Flame-haired supervixen Shirley Manson is the band's undoubted focal point and focus of most eyes in the audience - she's never still, stalking around the stage with air of menace and in-your-face attitude or when not at the mic, wandering behind Butch Vig's drum kit, chatting with the band's regular live bass player Eric Avery or chatting to the crowd. Stage left, über-cool Steve Marker dressed head to foot in black with the peak of his cap pulled down tightly prowled back and forth across the stage slashing out great, meaty slabs of rhythm guitar. Stage right, tall be-suited Duke Erikson, eerily reminiscent of a sinister agent from a Matrix movie paced the stage stopping only to crouch and rip out a succession of recognisable riffs.

More classic Garbage followed - "Queer" and "Stupid Girl" were played back to back and sounded as fresh and exciting as they did back in 1995 and were followed with "Why Do You Love Me".

Garbage have played Wolverhampton several times before and it was a shame not to see a full house this tour, but the audience were delighted when Manson said "It's beautiful to watch you all change and grow. As you watch us… we're watching you!” With the subsequent roar of pleasure still in the air, it was finally time for a new number, "Control". The band closed their set very strongly with a rocky "Bad Boyfriend", a deafening "Push It", and a grungy "Vow".

The new album has some stand out tracks and happily most were played including "Blood For Poppies", "Battle In Me", "Big Bright World" and as the first encore, a terrific version of "Automatic Systematic Habit". Given our excuse for a summer there was only one song that could wrap the evening up, a bouncing version of "Only Happy When It Rains".

Garbage remain a vital, exciting live presence. While Shirley Manson is clearly the boss on stage and her voice sounds as good as ever - for a loud show the sound was very well mixed and the vocals sounded crisp and clear. In Butch Vig they have a brilliant drummer, but the dual guitar assault of Marker and Erikson are primarily responsible for making the signature, grunge-rock Garbage sound. It’s great to have them back on tour.

Setlist: Supervixen, I Think I'm Paranoid, Shut Your Mouth, Metal Heart, Queer, Stupid Girl, Why Do You Love Me, Control, #1 Crush, Cherry Lips, Blood For Poppies, Special, The Trick Is To Keep Breathing, Battle In Me, Big Bright World, Bad Boyfriend, Push It, Vow, Automatic Systematic Habit, Not Your Kind Of People, Only Happy When It Rains

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Garbage performing at Wolverhampton Civic Hall on 2 July 2012