a little east of reality

Sunday, September 25, 2005

do not discard

Wow. I'd heard that Garbage were good live, but I had no idea just how good.

Phi and I set off for Sydney at a reasonable time, but we didn't have a map until we got into the city and bought one. Sydney is one of those old cities that grew rather than being planned and finding your way around is a bit of a challenge, especially when you are reading the map by the interior car light. So when we pulled up and parked, there were just ten minutes till Garbage were due on stage. Mad scramble to pick up the tickets and buy a t-shirt while the crowd wasn't around the table, and then inside just as the lights were dimming.

And then Shirley Manson was on stage and time stopped. It's everything about her ~ her trashy, heavily-accented banter with the crowd ~ her deep, gravelly singing voice ~ her stark lyrics only accentuated by her snarling stage presence. She totally dominates the performance.

I'm no Barbie doll
I'm not your baby girl
I've done ugly things
And I have made mistakes
And I am not as pretty as those girls in magazines
I am rotten to my core if they're to be believed.

I've read that Manson thinks herself ugly. I think she misunderstands the nature of beauty. On (and from what I've read, off) stage she emits a dark light that reaches out into the audience and holds you by the throat until she releases you, stunned, back into the real world. I agree that she doesn't look generically beautiful, but she exudes a lot more heat.

One of the first thing she did was to say that in spite of the rumours they are definitely, definitely NOT breaking up. They are however taking a long holiday, at the end of which they hope to come back and create a great new album. I'm cool with that. Maybe their creative process demands it. As long as they come back, they can take whatever time they need.

The music was amazing. I'd seriously forgotten how good their songs were. I was a fan of their early music but didn't know much about the band at the time. They are labelled pop, but when the songs thump and the guitar wails and the lead singer rules the earth, to me that's a rock show. The crowd were a little too sensible for my liking - I came out of Powderfinger dripping with sweat and exhausted, which was not the case tonight. The crowd were totally into the band - they just apparently weren't into the whole hot, vibrant crush that tells you it's rock.

A fun incident came in the middle when the band started playing the wrong song. Manson stopped the song, explained the mistake to the crowd and then announced they'd be taking requests because:

"That's the way it is. When the band fucks up, there must be payback."
The first request was for "Supervixen", which went down well. Then she singled out a guy for his request and it was "Kick My Ass", a random b-side track.

"Are you fucking kidding me?" she screeches at him.

"I'm gonna need my lyrics book for that one."

She stalks off, yelling towards the side of the stage for her lyrics book. Someone brings it and she's flipping pages.

"I don't think it's even in here. Fuck, I really don't have it."

She started trying to sing the song, died after a line or so and then had the guy who requested it tell her the lyrics line by line so she can try to do the song. Finally she gave it up and asked for another request. He asked for "Trip My Wire" - yet another random b-side. She abused him some more, screwed up that song too, and then sang another song directly to him in apology. Sure they were screwing up, but it was real and she was funny as hell. I would've asked for 'When I Grow Up" but they played it later anyway so I was satisfied.

More than satisfied. Sated. Great show.