Shirley Manson looks ready for combat...
Kids have been clustering outside Razzmatazz – a 2,500 capacity venue in the industrial district of Barcelona – all day, huddling in the meagre shade. As night falls, they get exactly what – and who – they came for. In tight white halter-top, arctic camouflage combats, and wallet-chain, Shirley Manson looks ready for combat. Her severe cyberpunk haircut may have lost her the doe-eyed adulation of an army of teenage boys, but she remains the undisputed focal point of Garbage – the crackling, bleach-blonde eye of the storm.
Next to her, Duke and Steve tease out the digital roar of ‘Push It’ and the Timbaland-style R&B click of ‘Androgyny’ in a flurry of robotic rock moves. Occasionally, you feel the band’s democratic approach would be best-dissolved for our Shirl’s benevolent dictatorship: the open-wound confessional of ‘Milk’ would sound a lot better without that mechanical bash-bash backing. But a twisted run through ‘Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue’ offers curious tribute to dead Dee Dee Ramone and ‘Vow’ still sounds like one of the great lost pop songs of the ‘90s – a tale of vengeful obsession that leaves scratches down your back with its sharp digital claws.
‘Only Happy When It Rains’ caps the encore, and the band pad triumphantly
offstage. The moshpit breaks into a Spanish football chant – and it gradually
becomes clear they’re not going anywhere. Perhaps they’ve heard about the
Madrid show a few nights ago, where a crowd eight thousand strong chanted for an encore for half-an-hour, and eventually, Shirley returned to perform
‘Queer’ acapella while roadies scurried madly round the stage to plug the
equipment back in.
Tonight, though, a ten hour drive to Milan is pencilled in on that thankless
itinerary. Back in the dressing room, a laconic Duke cracks open another beer
and shrugs his shoulders. “Didn’t someone once say something along the lines of ‘leave ‘em wanting more’?” he grins.
Damn straight. Let the tour roll on.