Garbage / Moloko

Birmingham NEC

January 17 1999

God, over a fortnight into the new year before me first gig. Thought I was going to need rehab for a while there. But there'll be plenty more to come.

Moloko. So how do you review a band you've never heard of before and frankly just weren't my sort of thing. Easy, you do the following. "That skirts she's wearing is horrible" says Vickie, to which, though I don't know much about skirts having chosen not to wear them meself, I'm in total agreement. As the vocalist sings la la la la "my God, it's the teletubbies" I say. "No ,the teletubbies are better" comes the reply. "This song is called Sing It Back" announces the bad skirt wearing singer. "Not bloody likely" Vickie nicks one of my thoughts. See, reviews are easy when you know how! Next.

Well, until about 6 months ago, I knew Garbage for the singles. Then I took the plunge and got a second hand copy of the debut. Listened a few times and that was it. So a couple of weeks back I thought, "I'd better have a listen if I'm going to see them", and so I did. Bit like last minute revision. And found that I couldn't stop listening to the bloody thing. So I approached this with more hopes than I initially had. Would they be well founded?

Well, they came on to the Temptation Waits, before Not My Idea is the first of the debut album material. From there it's a mixture, flicking between I'm Paranoid to Dog New Tricks, Only Happy When It Rains to other stuff off the new album which I haven't listened to as much, so don't really know the titles. And it all sounds pretty good. Hmm, it helps actually being down the front and seeing the band when you're stuck in a shed like this.

But something is up, as Manson gets ever more irritated or nervous at the apparent lack of noise. "This is fucking freaky, you're making me really really nervous. Make some fucking noise" she pleads. On a few occasions. Playing a track that "none of you will have ever heard before" called Supernatural is perhaps a mistake. It's a slow introspective thing, which on first listen doesn't embed itself musically, but is a vehicle for Manson's voice. And it slows things down. However, the glorious Milk from the debut picks things up again, before Stupid Girl gets things going. Though she's still not entirely convinced. "I want to hear some fucking Ozzy Ozbourne now" she demands during a little break where the guitarist with the receding hair is left witout a guitar, just before she brings out a cardboard cut out of Elvis "not even the king is getting a response" she sings the brilliant Sleep Together to him. And it's the turning point. "Yeah yeah, point taken" she laughs at the prolonged response it incites, and from here in it's prety much plain sailing for the band. But why was it like that? Well, I'll always offer up the "it's playing a hell hole like the NEC as an excuse". But it could be the reason I've avoided the band for so long, in that there's an element of manufactured about the band. Not a REAL band y'know. Almost as though Manson senses it "thanks for proving the critics wrong and ensuring we didn't suffer the Sophomore slump". And maybe it's the same live. But I should've made a judgement based on the music, not on being a cynic, and maybe there's an element of that happened as well. Queer and a few others, I forget now, finish up the main set, and in the end they've pulled it off

When they return it's to do "4 songs instead of 2. It's like when I was at home for Xmas after being away for 5 months, I'm eating my turkey and my little nephew who's 2 tugs at my elbow and goes I really do like you. This feels like deja-vu". A track of the current single, some old cover song and When I Grow Up finishes things off. And you know what, it was a damn sight better than the Manics were here just before Xmas. I wouldn't say I'll be a raving Garbage freak, but they convinced me based on the songs. They're actually pretty good and pretty catching, and if most of the banter wasn't a show, then that little battle and the way they handled it impressed me. It was fun.

Ahh, I needed that. Too long without a gig and you know ....

"So, are they going to get a good review then?" asks Vickie. Well, there's your answer.

Oh, and did anyone get through the gig without wanting to grab that bubblewrap like backdrop, and pop each of the bubbles between your hands? You lying bastards!