Music review: Garbage, Festival Theatre, Edinburgh

Garbage frontwoman Shirley Manson was magnetic, ferocious and emotional'' Picture: Calum Buchan
Garbage frontwoman Shirley Manson was magnetic, ferocious and emotional'' Picture: Calum Buchan
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WHEN their first single came out in 1995, there seemed to be something constructed about Garbage. Now – playing the first date of a tour which celebrates their second album, 1998’s Version 2.0 – they’re a strikingly natural fit for one another, and their introduction of electronic elements beneath a big, arena-rock sound has proven to be ahead of its time.

Garbage, Festival Theatre, Edinburgh ****

Playing with the full depth of the Festival Theatre’s stage open, with a grid-like cauldron of coloured LCD striplights arranged around them and with lots of space for Shirley Manson to pace furiously amid her bandmates, it was the singer’s enduring magnetism which set the seal on a polished performance. In an orange sequined gown which matched the striking dye in her hair, she cut a picture of ferocity (“let’s get more women into music… let’s get more women into everything!” she said in paying tribute to support act Honeyblood) and of thoughtful, identifiable uncertainty.

She spoke with awe of the time Big Star’s Alex Chilton apparently called Garbage’s cover of Thirteen (played here) his favourite cover of any of his music, this news coming at a time of huge self-doubt for Manson, and paid tribute to her father, sister and namesake Auntie Shirley, a “strong female role model”, in the crowd. Acknowledging this early date was essentially still a dress rehearsal, she still burned through signature Garbage tracks The World is Not Enough, Paranoid and Push It, modulating her tone between the goth balladry of Soldier Through This and the punk spite of Lick the Pavement.

Paying emotional tribute to Bowie and her own fear of impermanence with a closing cover of Starman, Manson was revealed as the kind of artist whose feelings are ingrained in their music. “Doesn’t it take a little s**t to make you who you are?” she asked at one point, and the crowd fell for her all over again.- DAVID POLLOCK