For some reason I never thought I would see my favourite band of all time live. I thought after the tour in 2004 that I had tickets for was cancelled, I wouldn’t have the chance again. Time wasn’t on my side and any dates announced after I couldn’t make. Would I really never see the songs that saved my life in the flesh? Would I never get the chance to see the band that gave me hope when I was a miserable teenager with no clear way out?
It happened. It finally happened. This evening I finally got to see Garbage live and it was everything I hoped it would be. I was stood downstairs in the midst of it all. And in the seating area was a friend from secondary school who loves them as much as I do. To know she was up there watching made the gig mean more. Two kids from a small island in the middle of south London watching the best band in the world.
The gig was a celebration of 20 years since the release of their debut record. I was about 9 years old when it came out. The video to Vow gripped me. I was old before my years. My father had just died and I was dealing with it however a kid is meant to. For me it was music, and that set in stone how I was to face daily life-through music.
The band walked on stage and I, like a wuss, cried. I cried because it was finally happening. I cried because everything that had happened in the lead up to this started to slip away. I’ll never be tough but I can work on being brave. That’s what Garbage’s music means to me and has taught me. Shirley Manson has ALWAYS been such a huge part in my life. Through knowing someone dealt with life in an unconventional way like I did when I was a teenager to making it to adulthood with a few scraps along the way. I made it, they made it. We all made it.
The anniversary shows consist of songs from the debut record and the gorgeous b-sides that came along for the ride also. Last week I watched in awe Patti Smith rip apart the Roundhouse. On the other side of the river I watched my other heroes do the same. From Shirley forgetting to put her underwear on to the euphoria that erupted as they tore into Only Happy When It Rains. It was such a beautiful sight and such a great thing to be part of.
Garbage welcome anyone and their music speaks to so many. They found me when I was lost, and to this day they continue to do so. I have my good days and I have my bad days, but one thing that’s always constant is this bands ability to drag me through hell and back.
As I looked on, I felt glad that I went the right way and ended up here. I finally got to see the band that own every inch of my heart and soul in the flesh. I’ll never see the Velvet Underground but Garbage created my love for music, the rest just followed. In some respects I was catapulted back to my teenage years but it felt like a blur and it was over far too quickly. In the best way possible, this was the most emotionally draining gig I’d ever been to. I guess it is because I had been waiting for so long and it got to the point where it just became this blur in my mind. But I’ll cling onto everything I witnessed and felt.
You don’t forget the songs that saved your life, the first band you fell in love with or things like that. Those things stick with you because they are what spurs you on and drags you along. I felt like I was watching Garbage 20 years ago. I felt like I was watching them back in 95/96, I didn’t feel like I was watching a band who have been around for so long. That’s what made it great and it felt like home.
Every generation needs a voice, a person who stands up and tells those in the wrong to fuck off. I regard Shirley as highly as Patti Smith. She stalks the stage like a majestic panther, pacing up and down. With her candy floss pink hair flowing around as she runs around the stage with determination and power. Creating shadow boxing like moves on the stage. The stage is her ring. She’s a fucking fighter and that’s why she’s on another level compared to most. The band sound stronger than most bands I’ve seen, and they make you feel like you’re watching a new band rather than one that’s been around for some time. It just adds to the reasons as to why they’re the best.
This obviously isn’t a typical review, and if you want something that will tell you what they wore etc you won’t find it here. Live music has this ability to bring something out of you that nothing else and no one else can. I guess you could call Garbage superheroes. They’re my heroes and have been for the past 20 years. It was emotionally draining to experience but it was for the greater good. Even writing it feels exhausting, but I think the show was a body of inspiration. I’ll probably never feel like this again seeing any other band, but that’s okay. I love a lot of bands, but none hold such weight in my heart like Garbage do. I probably sound like an overly sensitive mess, and maybe that’s what I am. But this band kept me going when nothing else did. They sometimes still do. You can feel this at any age, and as I get older I start to feel less ashamed about how I feel about things or how certain things make me feel.
This gig will stay with me a hell of a long time, and much like the music, perhaps it will serve as a crutch.
If by some weird bout of fate the band see this, thank you and I love you.