live reviews


Garbage Glasgow: SECC, Sat 23 Jan

The term ’goth' has, in it's time, become irrefutably linked to a veritable cavalcade of aesthetic atrocities. From hessian sacking and cider-smeared leggings to those men you see gliding into computer shops wearing bat-wing jumpers and ten- gallon hats, goth's catalogue of influences runs like the most gratuitous of Hammer horrors. lt's music doesn't provide much comfort either, proffering the whispering galleries and bellowing buttresses of such 80’s frights as The Sisters of Mercy, The Mission and, gulp, Fields of the Nephilim. Nevertheless, goth’s frowning beat goes on, inexplicably leading to a recent revival of sorts.

Current successes, such as Marilyn Manson and execrable Tears for Fears tribute band Mansun, have suggested that goth can appeal to everyone and not just chronically depressed rubber fetishists. Then, of course, there's Garbage, Europe’s biggest selling band and, tonight, perhaps the only members of goth's bustling co-op to play ’Black


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Garbage: a goth's revenge fantasy

Sabbath' at a sold-out SECC. So what's the appeal? Why on earth should a band whom at times resemble a slightly angrier Transvision Vamp command such respect? Much of it is clearly due to Shirley Manson, Garbage's very own titian-haired Millennium pin-up. Indeed, so magnetic is the Manson magic, that the often glaring deficiencies of her band's music go relatively unnoticed.

On record, 'I Think I’m Paranoid' and 'Queer' are standard lumpettes of funereal gravy, but live they're transformed into sepulchral stompalongs with chutzpah to spare. Similarly, in Shirley's alabaster paws, 'Vow' morphs from pedestrian Blondie-does-‘Don't Look Now’ fare into a storming, seething revenge fantasy, the sort of thing Wednesday Addams would plot while brooding in her cobweb-strewn garret. And, along with 'Only Happy When It Rains', it's also Garbage's finest lyrical

moment, when their tendency to juggle aimless, Cure- style ennui shifts into full-on female empowerment gear.

But still, there's no escaping the fact that much of Garbage's music sounds like broken-down relics from The Crow soundtrack, wearin bombastic and bereft of any genuine soul or insight. Of course, you could argue that pop music has always operated on a kind of emotional autopilot, dealing almost exclusively in frothy platitudes and aerated half-truths. But this is cold comfort when faced with a song as downright embarrassing as ‘Push lt’ (’My head explodes and my body aches', indeed).

While their pre-Millennial fury may soothe the odd Steps and 911 tempered brow, the truth is that without Shirley Manson, Garbage would all but disappear into that most anti-goth of states: ordinariness.

(Sarah Dempster)

ELECTRONICA :ZOVIET* FRANCE: Edinburgh: Cafe Royal, Thu 2' Jan

:Zoviet' France: unlikely to be on Top Of The Pops soon

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The ubiquity of samplers in pop and rock has broken down much of the prejudice against electronically-created music, but there's an edge beyond which only avant-gardists and readers of Wire magazine Will tread, and that’s where you'll find tonight's headliners Zewet' Frame

The more \‘JllllllSKdl Stock, Hausen 8r \N’alkinan are on first, however, a few minutes of deceptively gentle background liul)l)ul) shattered by erratic electronic squealing Yup, the hand are on Except the hand in this case are tvvo guys inovrng only to Click a mouse or slip another disc into a CD player to lze sampled The vast majority of people would balk at calling this 'music', but, despite a few long stretches where their improwsations seem to he running away from them, then juxtaposnions of short bursts Of noise are entertaining and sometimes audaciously funny Sometimes, they leave a jazz or reggae CD running long enough for a teasing rhythm to set itself up one which they'll fuck up accidentally oi on purpose With a


barrage of pulses from a completely different source. The result is a polyrhythmic stew of unrelated elements that makes Fat Boy Slim sound like a lightweight.

No leVity for :Zowet" France:, the Newcastle duo who adore Motorhead as much as they do Stockhausen By the time they start playing, a proportion of the audience is sitting cross-legged on the floor, ObVlOUSly With some idea of what's in store. Over the next hour, they’re rewarded With a thought-provoking sonic sculpture With no actual tunes, just the sheer power of sound itself, electronically manipulated into ImpTOVISed shapes. For all we know, the piece they’re creating is jUSI as random and haphazard as SH&W's set, but it takes on a life of its own and evolves into music With a strange, fearful kind of beauty all its own. The most notable aspect of their performance, and what your mates down the pub will never believe, is just how expressive this form of sonic manipulation and collage can be (Paula Drur‘nmond)


Don Giovanni Glasgow: RSAMD, Fri 28 Jan fink

My favourite bit, among many great moments, of Don Giovanni is at the end when, having invited the Commendatore's ghost to dinner, the dastardly Don is despatched to hell and damnation. Serves the evil rotter right, the rest of them sing. And so it was with the RSAMD's Don Giovanni, where the said Don’s comeuppance was a brilliantly imaginative way of disposing with him. But in Nigel Warrington's production, the Don was just far too nice for his fate. Lack of definition of this pivotal figure meant that, in turn, the sharp focus of emotional response the opera stands to deliver remained blurred. That said, Nathaniel Webster as the Don cut a rakish figure with a silvery smooth voice that alone could woo the many female conquests his reputation thrived on.

Taking place in a simple set a semicircle of full length, billowing Austrian blinds the plot unfolded in a polished and secure if not entirely uplifting fashion. Over three hours of Italian arias and recitatives places a huge burden on the central characters. There was no doubt about the tremendous commitment from these young singers, chorus and soloists alike, and there is some great talent preparing to enter the profeSSion. Mark Saberton's Leperello, the Don's servant, was understated but solid, and sung with well focussed warmth. As Donna Elvira, abandoned ex-lover, Marianne Vidal has a mature voice With a lovely, easy fluidity. Carlos Duarte’s Don Ottavio was an impassioned interpretation, as was Sarah Estill’s Donna Anna.

Gerry Corcoran's lighting, if sometimes puzzling, made great use of shadows. Similar mixed Success With Jessma Curtis's costumes, a special bravery award going to the chorus member who wore nothing but leopard skin underpants With appendages of maybe penises, maybe bananas or maybe even elephant tusks, but no doubt symbolic of something. Of the whole show, the Academy Opera Orchestra, conducted by Timothy Dean, was the overall star. Their playing was controlled but bubbly, supportive but never overpowering. (Carol Main)

g Edinburgh Festival Theatre, Thu 4 & Sat 6 Feb.

Mozart: the mind behind the Don

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STAR RATINGS * w t it 4r Unmissable * 1hr * it: Very good it it * Worth a shot a * Below average w You’ve been warned