Garbage / Kelli Ali - Manchester Apollo - 6.4.02

Last seen fronting The Sneaker Pimps, Kelli Ali has been out of the limelight since she left the group. Apart from guesting on Marc Almond's album a few years ago little has been heard from her till now. She's now a fully fledged solo artist with a single out soon and an album to follow. Looking sensational and appropriately enough joined on stage by a group of anonymous musicians (Ed: She was ousted out of Sneaker Pimps for stealing the guys shine). Much of set avoids the trip-hop tag of old and heads down the middle of the road adult orientated rock route. Pleasant with a chilled ambience but lack killer choruses and memorable tunes. There are some summery laid back vibes on offer but I'm afraid it just didn't float my boat.

Shirley Manson may be petite in stature, but is rocks most outspoken woman since Courtney Love and is in essence the focus of the band. While the other members of Garbage are quite happy to remain in the background Shirley is the one who everyone sees once and never forgets. Recent album "Beautiful Garbage" fins the band still sounding fresh and exciting and the last few singles were little gem's. Its a pleasure to have them back even through Shirley's resemblance to a peroxide Anne Robinson is a little bit scary. From the opening notes of "Push It" through to the hits "Stupid Girl", "Only Happy When It Rains" and "Paranoid" we are instantly reminded of the minor classics. Miss Manson bounces around the stage (resembling Pink rather than a bona fide rock chick) with so much confidence that you begin to realize that she was born to do it.

Shirley informs us that she's been having guitar lessons and loves playing Manchester, but is a little touchy when describing how a journalist criticized a recent gig for being too long. Thank god I loved every minute of it or it would have been a case of Kelly Jones "Mr Writer" all over again. Its a thank you to their fans that the band avoid the pitfalls of simply delivering a greatest hits set and delve into album tracks and obscure b-side aplenty. Even taking time to bring us, somewhat bizarrely for Garbage, a Rolling Stones cover version. Classic single "Queer" and the epic "The World Is Not Enough" from the Bond movie are not included, but when a gigs this enjoyable it doesn't really matter. This is one of the best gigs of the year so far.

Nicholas Paul Godkin

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