Garbage : Hamburg Grosse Freiheit 36

Garbage are drop-dead, stone-cold, stiff-quiffed, rock-hard fucking awesome...really!...

First off, let us snort through widened nostrils, paw the ground like priapic stallions and slap the back our necks with all like steam coming out of our collars. Because Shirley Manson is wearing a white vest with black braces and even blacker combat pants.

Her strawberry blonde hair is piled up on top of her maniacally grinning head. She looks like Bridget Nielsen crossed with an especially feisty whippet. To which the only sane, considered and sober response is – COR! WOOF! WOOF! WOOF! DRIBBLE! Or possibly just PWOOOOAR!

Here, in the seedy, sex-obsessed and permanently rain-lashed German birthplace of the first wave of gritty, leather-jacketed British rock’n’roll (The Beatles played downstairs in the Kaiser Klub) the wonderfully artificial Scottish-American confection that is Garbage triumphed utterly. They were drop-dead, stone-cold, stiff-quiffed, rock-hard fucking awesome.

Manson’s voice has matured to the point where she could drown out Slipknot with her slightest cough. And tonight, with a confidence that occasionally bordered on the psychotic, she slaughtered this audience.

WithGarbage, you either adore their wonderfully blasphemous and utterly cynical mish-mashing of Spector-esque garage-rock, gay-euro-pop and over-produced [I]grunge-slick[/I] or you are a total moron who wouldn’t recognise unadulterated pop genius if it walked up to you in the street and caved your bigoted skull in with a huge box of top notch Belgian marzipan and cherry-liqueur chocolates. You deaf scum.

Tonight, Garbage met then surpassed all expectations with blazing renditions of old faves like ‘Stupid Girl’ and the awesome anti-Travis anthem ‘Only Happy When It Rains’.

And then delivered versions of new album stuff like ‘Shut Your Mouth’, ‘Androgyny’ and ‘Cherry Lips (Go Baby Go!)’ that sounded like they’d been polished for years.

The only bum-note was a shit cover version of a shit song by some shit old band called Big Star.

Otherwise we were reminded tonight that pop is ALWAYS best when it is modernist, plastic, pre-packaged and shrink-wrapped in brightly coloured and shockingly shiny plastic. Hey, hippy, have you got the right time? To, like, the nearest fucking decade? Let’s leave “authenticity” to the minging folkies and the piss-stinking old jazz bores and [I]move on[/I], shall we? Hmmm?

Steven Wells