Isn’t it funny how some things just sort of creep up on you with all the impetus of an unstoppable, developing realisation. Since the burgeoning force that is YouTube hit our computer screens I’ve been diving in and out watching clips of favourite bands like there’s no tomorrow, but when it comes to a bit of live rock ‘n’ roll, the type where you can turn the volume up to 11 and shut the world out for four of five minutes, I find that I am returning more and more to the live performances of one band; Garbage.
It begs the question; are they one of the world’s greatest live bands? I think they probably are, but I doubt they would feature on any ad hoc list should a consensus of the great general public be taken. I’ve not turned up one bad performance from Shirley and the Boys. I’ve said before that I consider Shirley Manson one of the best live singers in rock and until I hear a really bad performance from her, I shall stick to this view. The band members are no slouches either.
The band is a classic example of a deliberate sleight of hand. Ask yourself: what do a bunch of session musicians, that is, Butch Vid (drums), Steve Marker (guitar) and Duke Erickson (guitar, keyboards & bass) do when they want to form a band and the following is apparent?
- They are slightly over the hill age-wise to be pop stars
- Let’s be kind, they are photo-genically challenged, and
- They have a need to put out some killer material but can’t sing for toffee
Answer: they employ a fiery, feisty extremely photogenic Scottish singer, 10 years younger than them, to hide behind, to divert the attention of the paying public and of course, to sing. The thing is, the guys are extremely competent, experienced rock musicians and adding Ms Manson has just put a cherry on an already excellent cake.
I bought their first two albums, ‘Garbage’ and ‘Version 2.0’ in the mid-90s and played them to death but curiously never bought their later work but that has now changed with the purchase of ‘Bleed Like Me’ from 2005. It’s a cracker – what took me so long? It may almost be their best album.
Here’s a track from the album, ‘Why Do You Love Me’, performed at Glastonbury 2005. This whole set is worth seeking out on YouTube as the band is on top form. If anyone knows how Shirley can manage to keep singing without being out of breath after all that running around, please let me know. Perhaps she IS a cyborg after all…