GARBAGE: 20 Years Paranoid Tour. 9th September 2018. Manchester Academy.


There are some experiences in life that can never be replicated. There are some moments where words do not do what you have been through justice. Last night I saw Garbage perform a record in full that came out 20 years ago. This is the record that saved my life. This isn’t an exaggeration; it’s the truth. Music has, and always will be my crutch but Version 2.0 helped me in ways, and still helps me in ways nothing else has. Or could.

This isn’t a typical review of a show. This wasn’t just me going to see a band play live. This was something else. This was an outer-body experience. It was part healing, part saving, part something that I do not know how to put into words.

There were a few songs I knew would break me. I tried listening to one in particular a few days before the show and I couldn’t make it through. How was I going to cope seeing it live? As soon as the opening notes to Medication kicked in, I suddenly wished I was on a higher dose of sertraline. My mind and body couldn’t really come together to fathom what I was experiencing. The brutal truth; Medication got me through being bullied all through secondary school, it got me through the years and years of self-loathing and what comes with it. Just read the lyrics, it’s fairly obvious how I coped. Do I regret it? No. Am I ashamed? Not at all. We all cope differently. So when I heard this song last night, I went back to the days of feeling like I did then. But something happened- it wasn’t just tears of sadness. They were tears of relief knowing that I don’t have to carry that feeling around ever again. Sure I have to face depression and anxiety every day- but certain feelings aren’t there no more.

A moment that truly stood out was Shirley crying at the response we gave the band. But, what else could they expect? People that were there last night were people who idolise the band, who have had their lives saved by them, who use the strength in the band make it theirs. Last night’s show was the best show I’ve ever been to- the main reason being what the record means to me. However, the reaction from everyone was just so beautiful, and totally backs up my theory that crowds in Manchester are just the best.

I loved when Shirley went into Personal Jesus during Wicked Ways. It went perfectly, and was something I just wanted to last forever. I also loved Dreams by Fleetwood Mac being sung by Shirley towards the end of You Look So Fine. That song has always made me cry for reasons I’ll never understand, and to hear Shirley sing You Look So Fine and expose just how vulnerable the song is was just something else. Push It sent everyone nuts- it was incredible. I was stood right at the back, but to see everyone go off for this song was so beautiful. The crowd was made up of every background you can imagine, and it was just a beautiful sea of people coming together to see the band that they adore. There is no better feeling.

Every B-side was played, and my personal favourite was Solider Through This. It’s been a song I have loved since I heard it years and years ago. I loved the fragility in it. I loved Shirley’s speech before she went into it. She said relationships shouldn’t be difficult, that they should be easy. I truly felt that- I was stood next to my girlfriend, my best friend as she said this. There was no one else I’d want to see my favourite band with, and allow them to see me ugly cry like that. Although a difficult song for her to sing live (the lyrics justify why) Shirley’s voice on this was one of my favourite moments of the show. Shirley’s voice at this show was nothing short of mind-blowing. I have never heard anyone sound so tough and powerful. There’s a note in this song near the end that she totally annihilates and every single part of me is covered in goose bumps. She does this numerous of times throughout the show, and I think it’s us, the crowd that make her sound louder than she ever has. I was just in awe of her voice and how Butch, Eric, Duke and Steve play with this energy that puts newer bands to shame.

The Trick Is To Keep Breathing was the song that made me cry the most. I’ve never ever cried like that at a show before, and I never will again-unless it’s seeing this song. This song was my lifeline for so long, and it still is. It’s my go to song when everything is too much or when I just need some form of reassurance. I used to repeat the chorus in my head as I walked the corridors at school and had this feeling in my stomach knowing what I was about to face. This song got me through it, and I am forever in debt to Garbage for this song.

When you go to a Garbage show, you are enamoured by all of them. You focus on Shirley stalking the stage like a hungry panther, Butch makes you wish you could play the drums, Duke is the coolest person on the planet, Steve has this laid-back stance but you know he is playing with everything he’s got and Eric drives the band on. I’ve never seen such a perfect bunch of musicians like this before. They fit together. Their bond is just so beautiful.

Excuse the pun, but it was such a special show. Every song made me feel like I was going back 20 years ago to hear this record for the first time all over again. I loved that there were little kids at the show wearing massive headphones-imagine that being your first show you ever go to! Those kids have cool families. I love how this show just brought so many people together all for the same reason. I loved hearing The World Is Not Enough,  Dumb and their cover of Can’t Seem To Make You Mine. Temptation Waits blew my mind a stupid amount! I wanted the show to keep going forever. In my head, it still is. I’m emotionally exhausted from it and I’ve had about 5 hours sleep. I feel like I am still at the show. I want to always stay in that moment.

The show ended perfectly on their cover of Starman. That song has always made me cry (what doesn’t… I know!) and to hear them sing this song, it kind of felt like the band were saying “Stay weird and don’t let anyone take it from you. Ever.” Just like Bowie always did. The way Shirley sings this makes you realise she has definitely studied his performances, and she did the song justice. They all did. They made this song theirs but in a way, you knew it was a tribute and it was so perfectly done.

I never thought I’d see/hear the songs live that saved my life. I never thought I’d experience it. It meant more to me than these words I’ve written can express. If on the off-chance they read this- thank you. You helped this kid deal with more than they could carry, and make it to adulthood.

Garbage-You Look So Fine.

I guess I pretty much hold a lot of sentimental value towards Garbage’s second record. So many of the songs have acted like a beacon of light, a strand of hope when there was really none there you know? I feel that way towards all their records and I know I will feel that way about Not Your Kind Of People when it comes out. I’ll probably lock myself away for a very long time and refuse to do anything but listen to it. Over and over again. I’ll probably need a new copy of it after a week. I have Version 2.0 on vinyl and I’ve never played it. There’s certain songs on there that, if I heard on vinyl I’d probably have some kind of meltdown.

You Look So Fine has always meant the world to me. It means a stupid amount to me right now, but I’m going to place my awful feelings aside and write this in a way that doesn’t make me hate on life and such things. You see, this song just oozes vulnerability. The owning up of liking a person is a bloody chore isn’t it. I toy with the idea of telling someone (I rarely dig a person, mainly because if I want disappointment I’ll just put the news on) and let it bother me for a while. Then I tell them..and it goes wrong. So I play this song. I play this song and it is like a sigh of relief. You can let go once you let it all out can’t you. I’m not writing about this song because of this reason, that I need to get it out somehow. Oh no. I bitch about this nagging burden to about 2 people, then I drop it. I’m writing about this song because I believe it shows Garbage at their best. I’m sure I’ve said that about all their songs but for some reason, I feel it greatly towards this song and I want to try work out why. If I can.

The intro to the song sounds like a heart racing. You know that feeling don’t you? When you think about or see the person that has all your affections, even if they don’t know it. All of you aches and is frustrated. So what do you do?

“You look so fine
I want to break your heart 
And give you mine.”

If I could’ve written anything in the world, it would be that. It is so perfect and pure. Imagine if someone said that to you. You’d melt and collapse into them. Or maybe it is just me. See, I may look like I’d mug you for black nail polish but I’m just a soppy old so and so who is a sucker for honest lyrics. The way Shirley sings this is so painfully dedicated. She is giving herself to that person, and nothing can stop her from doing so. See, you do try to stop yourself from feeling anything but it always catches up with you doesn’t it. How cheeky.

You Look So Fine is 5 minutes of honesty and wishing you had the heart to give up on a thing, a person. Something that’s just no good. It happens to us all. Once, twice..many a time. It happens. You can shrug it off. You can cling onto a wine glass in a bar and sing your heart out to the sad songs. Whatever gets you through.

“It’s so insane 
You’ve got me tethered and chained 
I hear your name 
And I’m falling over.”

 The person’s name is enough to send you into some kind of frenzy. At times it is enjoyable but for the most part it is a bloody chore to deal with. You feel trapped. When oh when will you gain the courage to let it all go? Her voice when she sings this feels like a huge sigh. Like she knows she is stuck, but does she (or you) even want to get out?

Then rejection seems to want to say hello.

“Knocked down 
Cried out 
Been down just to find out 
I’m through 
Bleeding for you.”

There’s heartbreak, then there’s this. Going so low down just to feel something other than what they’ve given you. And what they have given you is rejection. One day fellow underdog, our time will come. This song for me is a sign of strength and hope. There’s a part of this song that just makes you think, “My time will come.” It’s up to you where you find it. For me it’s that part. It’s the realising that you are through. Utterly done with feeling a thing to this person. It takes a lot out of you, but you gain more from it. Rejection isn’t always a bad thing. So don’t be scared of it. (Oh how I wish I could pay attention to my own words.)

“I’m not like all the other girls 
I won’t take it like the other girls 
I won’t fake it like the other girls 
That you used to know.”

For me, I find this to be the most comforting part of the song. We all think, “I’m better than the one you have chosen, you’ll see.” But rarely do we say it. This song gives you the platform to own up to being good for someone. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a bit of a wanky person but hey- I’ll buy you presents when you least expect it because I’m kind. Prefer hugs though. They’re free. And money isn’t something I have. Got plenty of time though. ANYWAY. This part for me is just a piece of Heaven to be honest. When you can get to a point where you feel like that, you’ve got to take that strength and courage. You take it and move forward. What they used to know was bad for them. All that you are is good for them. You could be the one that changes everything for them. So why won’t they let you? I wish I had the answers, but I don’t. I’m just some idiot who likes to evidently, take a song apart and talk about what it means to them. How pathetic.

“Ending with letting go
Let’s pretend, happy end.”

The repetition of this towards the end of the song leads up to an astounding instrumental build-up. The last-minute and a half of this song is almost like the listener gaining a solid peace of mind. You find clarity and you can carry on.

I just love this song so much. Not only is it one of my favourite Garbage tracks, it is easily one of my favourite tracks of all time. I love songs that seems vulnerable at the surface but as you listen closely you can find such strength and bravery in it.  At times, you feel like you are on the outside looking in as the person you want wanders off through life with someone else. Sure it is heartbreaking, but that’s why you should only give yourself away to a person who is willing to give themselves to you. It takes time, everything in life does. These are the reasons as to why Garbage are the band that own me. Shirley Manson evidently owns my heart, and songs like this just show why.

Be brave.

Garbage-The Trick Is To Keep Breathing.



Everyone, I don’t care who you are, has a song that ultimately defines them. It is a song that they play when they seek a feeling that nothing or no one in this world can give them. You have some that turn to a substance, some that turn to a canvas and create a piece of art- then some just turn to a piece of music. This song is your life. It sums up not just how you feel, but it gets out every tiny little feeling you have. No matter how messed up it is- that song is YOUR song. Call it a theme song if you want. Or maybe, just maybe, it is the song that gets you through.

I’ve thought about this quite a lot. I think attempting to define a person is the worst thing you can do. To define yourself by your sexuality or colour isn’t cool. There’s more to you than that. So why settle for less? “I’m gay so I must act this way.” No, just no. You must not. You must go with your heart and ignore what is expected of you. I think any ounce of strength I have comes from listening to Garbage. I was talking about them yesterday whilst having lunch with a friend that I have known since I was 5 years old (20 year friendship..maybe I’m not so bad after all!) and I brought up the topic of Garbage. She knows they have been my life since I was 8 years old. I don’t think I’ve ever felt such a connection to a band. You see, with Morrissey it is the wit and longing I relate to. With Shirley’s lyrics it is the courage and desire to no longer put up with the shit anymore. It is like, her lyrics instill something in me that nobody will ever do. I have cried on my bedroom floor to Garbage. I have had revelations to their music. I have become tougher to their music. I’m still too sensitive, but I’ve learnt to accept that it is just who I am. I’ll have my outburst and nap it off. That’s just how I am. I spent a long time trying to change it, but I listen to her lyrics and I realise that it is okay. You can be strong but vulnerable. That’s why The Trick Is To Keep Breathing is MY song.

“She’s not the kind of girl 
Who likes to tell the world 
About the way she feels about herself 
She takes a little time in making up her mind 
She doesn’t want to fight against the tide.”

If any verse in the history of music could sum me up, it’d be this one. I think anyone who has felt useless and hopeless can relate to this song, mainly this verse. It is everything you want to say, constantly on the tip of your tongue. Shirl gets out all those feelings of vulnerability and being unsure because you find it hard to do so. I’ll be the first to admit that me saying how I feel to a person is hard work. I’d rather write the person a song or poem, and give them it. But then I think what I’ve written isn’t good enough so I don’t bother. Constant battle that I’ll never win. Not with an attitude like that. Moving on.

The Trick Is To Keep Breathing, when I first heard it, I was only 11 or 12. That age where everything is about to change and you really have no idea. Move forward to now and the song is still as important to me now as it was then. Just because I’m firmly into adulthood doesn’t mean I know anything. All I know is based on what I believe, from certain songs and my own experiences. It gets you through. It is okay to carry some uncertainty around with you because it keeps you sane. It keeps you breathing. I’ve always wanted this song title tattooed on me somewhere. I have no idea where, I constantly change my mind..but I know I need to have it done soon. Real soon.

I cannot pick out a favourite Garbage lyric from any song. I’d have to spend a long time (sure I’ve got the time but..) trying to figure it out. I’d change my mind, but this one always comes to mind when I think about it :

“She knows the human heart 
And how to read the stars 
Now everything’s about to fall apart.”

It is just so haunting. You can figure everything out, but at the same time you cannot stop it from falling apart. Sometimes though, it all has to fall apart in order for it to seem right again. Trial and error. Or just error after error? Your call kid, your call. You’ll get what you want, eventually. But when will you get WHO you want? I dispute that most days with myself, to the point where I shut that part off because it causes a headache.

For me, Garbage are the friend I go to at 3am when I cannot sleep and need some form of guidance. Deep breaths. A cup of tea and I play their music. The amount of times I have played The Trick Is To Keep Breathing on a loop is probably in triple figures. I don’t care. It isn’t teenage angst, it was never ever that. It was always self frustration. I wanted to figure out so much and I just couldn’t. The Trick Is To Keep Breathing became my anthem, my theme song because it aided with figuring everything out.

“Maybe you’ll get what you want this time around .”

Maybe I will. Maybe I won’t. Either way, I’ve got this song to keep me going. To remind me to keep breathing. There’s a war in all of us. There’s a tame path for all of us. You’ve just got to figure out which one you are dragging yourself towards. It is never too late. Keep breathing, and don’t let anyone tell you that you’re not good enough. If I write this down, maybe I’ll believe my own words. Or maybe I’ll just listen to Garbage and believe their words. Nobody is ever sure, nobody is ever right. That’s why you cling onto whatever gets you through. For me, its music.

I hate how personal I write. But if it isn’t going to come from the heart, then what’s the point?

Garbage-Version 2.0

If I could convey my love for Garbage in an articulate manner, I would. But I can’t. I will never ever be able to fully express my love for them. They were the first band I remember being so obsessed and in love with. I remember first seeing the video to Vow and being in awe of Shirley Manson. I was only 9 or 10, but I knew I was watching something so powerful. I just knew that this band were going to be MY band. The band that started my obsession with music. The band that dragged me kicking and screaming through my teenage years.

Their second record, Version 2.0 is probably the one I hold the most emotional attachment to. It came out a few months before I entered Hell, which others may call, Secondary School. This record got me through the most awful days I could imagine. I don’t want to go into detail, but I know without this record I probably would’ve turned out worse. Or done a lot worse. I have no idea. I don’t need to think about it; I’m just glad I had this band as my only safety net.

As I’m a lot older now, I can listen to this record and appreciate it in a different way. Of course I still use the songs to pull me through when I just want to stay in bed and not be bothered by anything or anyone. I’ve always felt that Shrirley Manson was writing her songs about me. I guess we all feel like that when we feel so connected to a piece of music or a band. We feel as if they are spilling our hearts out for us because we really have no way of doing it ourselves. As I listen to songs such as Dumb, Medication and The Trick Is To Keep Breathing- it just makes me relieved that I didn’t fuck everything up completely for myself. That I used music (more importantly this record) to be the only positive thing that I could fall back on.

I will ALWAYS be able to relate Special to certain events, and certain people. We all know of someone that we used to think was so special and worthy of our love, and whatever else (I don’t mean in just a romantic sense.) But then you find out that they are just like everyone else. They lack an opinion; they follow everyone else because they have no identity. What use is that? What use is not having an opinion or just being different? I suppose people fear being true to themselves because they don’t want others to shun them. I’d rather be abandoned for staying true to myself than being appreciated by a bunch of false people with no heart. Special from the first time I heard it, immediately engraved itself upon my heart. I listen to it when certain things just make me dislike humans. It makes me see that I’m not the only one with these frustrations.

Garbage’s music always allowed me to feel comfortable with who I was/am. Like most people in the world, I’m not really a big fan of myself. I don’t mean this in a way that everyone hates me. I have no idea how anyone feels towards me. I mean it in a, like most people in the world, self-hate sometimes creeps up and causes a whirlwind of uncontrolable feelings. Obviously I’m better than I was. A whole lot better. It probably all came from accepting being gay and the like. That acceptance improved everything. There are good days, and there are bad days; like everyone else. It’s no big deal. Shirley’s words always made me feel less alone with any anger and fury I was feeling. Whether it be towards myself, or someone else. She made it okay. She still does.

What I love about Version 2.0 is that it seems more open than their debut album. Don’t get me wrong, I bloody love every single album of theirs. I’d never be able to pick a favourite without spending at least 5 hours thinking about it. It just seems impossible, but I guess I’d have to pick Version 2.0 due to it being more vulnerable and open. Songs like Medication just ooze so much despair; it just sounds like a huge plea for help. There was a time where listening to this song was just too much. There’s an acoustic version I once heard. It was enough to break one’s heart. Shirley’s voice just went tright through me. She just sound so hurt and as if she was begging to be helped. It made you want to reach out and help her. That’s the power and beauty of music.

The Trick Is To Keep Breathing and You Look So Fine are two of my favourite Garbage songs. You Look So Fine is a song anyone can link to anyone they have liked; but they may/may not like you back. You see this person standing there right in your eyeshot. They may not be able to see you. You see them looking so beautiful. You want to give them something to show you want them. What’s the most prized thing you can give to another? Your heart, metaphorically of course. You want to take away their broken heart, and give them your own. That’s how much they mean to you. That’s how much you want them. Deny it all you want, but you know you’ve felt this way before. Maybe more times than you wish to remember. It’s okay. Just don’t give yourself to anyone. You have to be sure, always.

The Trick Is To Keep Breathing is a song that just makes me feel as if Shirley is saying, ‘It’s okay. Keep breathing; it’ll all be okay.’ My feelings go deeper than that for this song but I have always struggled trying to word my feelings about this song. So, I guess I won’t even try. If I still can’t do it, I probably never will be able to. The opening verse always hits me right in the heart :

“She’s not the kind of girl,
Who likes to tell the world,
About the way she feels about herself.
She takes a little time,
In making up her mind.”

The songs on the album make you feel as if you’re not the only person to have experienced disappointment or that you’re not the only person that gets judged, or whatever. Songs like Dumb just show Shirl’s frustrations in, how a person tries to figure you out- they figure you out, and they probably wish they didn’t. It’s always the way. Some people- people cannot handle. Then they have no idea what they mean to someone nor do they know what they think. I suppose it is just human nature.

I adore the honesty on Wicked Ways. “Lord knows I tried to be good. I’d keep my promises, if only I could.” We’ve all felt that way. We are all capable of doing bad things. Some of us act on it, some of us don’t. Promises are probably made to be broken anyway. Why bother? Just keep trying. The way she sings about Religion in the Chorus, showing how people will cling onto some kind of figure to feel a sense of security. They want something to believe in so much, they are willing to pour hope into something they have never seen. Some may regard their lyrics to be controversial.

Personally, I feel their bold take on things is much needed. It was needed then, and it is needed now. I firmly believe that their new record will be just as bold, honest and pure. Every record they have put out is full of this; that’s why I love them. That’s why they changed and saved my life.