'This is far more than just a band'
Andrew Trendell
14:45 14th June 2016

"This one goes out to all you weirdos who keep coming back, year after year," beams a visibly humbled Shirley Manson - prowling the stage while resplendent in leopard print. "You people speak our language."

She's not wrong. Garbage are more than just a band. They're an ethos, they're an aesthetic, they're a manifesto - they're essentially a cult. The tongue that they preach in is one of of freedom, equality and liberation. 

"We've always made a point to speak when the people who we love get attacked," states Manson, honouring those who died in the recent Orlando attrocity by aptly dedicating 'Sex Is Not The Enemy. "I have so many friends in the LGBT community - who I love, who pick me up when I'm heartbroken, who send me hilarious images on Instagram."

The rapture this tribute receives is the mark of a real community, at one with each other and at peace with the world. 

MORE: Read our full and frank interview with Shirley Manson on love, loss, sex, fans, heartache and the future

Such a world is not built overnight. The foundations were laid some 20 years ago off the back of their immaculate self-titled debut - a record and anniversary they celebrated last year, culminating in a triumphant show at London's Brixton Academy. But as seminal as their legacy may be, Garbage have always been a band striding into the future, rather than leaning on the past. 

If this wasn't evident enough in their effervescent and defiantly strong new record, Strange Little Birds, then it becomes abundantly clear in how the new material stands shoulder to shoulder with the classics tonight. Opener 'Sometimes' aches with its raw-nerved intimacy and vulnerability, before 'Empty' carries that inimitable Garbage rock rush. It's already a firm fan favourite. Dipping straight into the essential 'Stupid Girl' ignites that religious fervour that only a bona fide anthem can, before the pop perfection of 'Blood For Poppies' and the playfully industrial bite of 'Automatic Systematic Habit' remind us of how this band so successfully laid claim to the 21st Century too. 

Butch Vig is sadly not in attendance, but the remaining three add up to more than the sum of their parts. Even beyond Manson's feline attitude, their presence, charisma and character remain as gripping as ever. You can hear a pin drop as they return for the encore of new record highlight 'Even Though Our Love Is Doomed' after the volatile catharis of 'Only Happy When It Rains'. Sealed with the kiss of the pop-punk abandon of 'Why Do You Love Me' and the synth-pop gem of 'Cherry Lips', you're left struck dumb by the awe that can only be inspired by true greatness. That can only come from a real, fearless originality - sustained over decades. Long may Garbage reign, the weirdos will always need you. 

Garbage played:
Sometimes
Empty
Stupid Girl
Special
Blood for Poppies
Bleed Like Me
My Lover's Box
Sex Is Not the Enemy
So Like a Rose
Control
#1 Crush
I Think I'm Paranoid
Battle in Me
Automatic Systematic Habit
The Trick Is to Keep Breathing
Blackout
Push It
Vow
Only Happy When It Rains
Encore:
Even Though Our Love Is Doomed
Why Do You Love Me
Cherry Lips (Go Baby Go!)

Garbage's remaining UK and EU tour dates are below. Tickets are available here.

Garbage will play:
June 14 - Rock City – Nottingham, UK
August 8 - Lokerse Festival - Lokeren, Belgium
August 10 - A Summer's Tale - Luhmühlen, German

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Photo: Jon Mo