“It was mega! I don’t think I’ll ever forget it, even when I get senile”: Garbage’s Shirley Manson on the time her band opened the Scottish Parliament

Garbage's Shirley Manson live in 1999
(Image credit: Photo by Pete Still/Redferns)

Garbage are the great alt-rock survivors. Shirley Manson & co. have made seven studio albums, kept their original line-up intact and still play the world’s biggest venues, but none of those are the thing that singer Manson is proud of. Nope, that honour would fall to the time in July, 1999, almot 25 years ago, when Manson and her band played a show as part of the celebrations to open the Scottish Parliament, a historic moment that meant Scotland could make its own laws for the first time in nearly 300 years.

“What do you mean, ‘That’s cool?!’” she snorted when this writer responded to her a statement that it was the proudest moment of her career that it was "cool". “It’s fucking mega, like super-duper, colour-fresh lipstick cool! It was amazing. It was a moment for me. I don’t think I’ll ever forget it, even when I get really senile.”

As soon as Manson cast her mind back to the day, it all came flooding out. “It was a dreamy moment,” explained the Edinburgh-born dynamo. “It was such a beautiful summer’s night and I had pink hair and my band was doing really well and my mum was there, my mum was still alive. It was very magical for me and to get the honour of my city, to be blessed by their respect, it was delicious.”

That’s not to say there isn’t room for more crowning achievements for Manson and her bandmates Butch Vig, Duke Erikson and Steve Marker in the coming months and years. This summer, the Stupid Girl stars will embark on one of their biggest tours in years across the UK and Europe, taking in dates at the OVO Arena Wembley, a huge show at Glasgow Green as part of TRNSMT 2024, a homecoming show for Manson at Edinburgh’s Usher Hall and more.

Niall Doherty

Niall Doherty is a writer and editor whose work can be found in Classic Rock, The Guardian, Music Week, FourFourTwo, on Apple Music and more. Formerly the Deputy Editor of Q magazine, he co-runs the music Substack letter The New Cue with fellow former Q colleagues Ted Kessler and Chris Catchpole. He is also Reviews Editor at Record Collector. Over the years, he's interviewed some of the world's biggest stars, including Elton John, Coldplay, Arctic Monkeys, Muse, Pearl Jam, Radiohead, Depeche Mode, Robert Plant and more. Radiohead was only for eight minutes but he still counts it.