The Placebo touring machine has been in full swing for over a year now showcasing their latest album Battle for the Sun, and the experience borne of the endless shows and festivals has resulted in a superbly slick and assured show of pure rock-ness, with a side of glam and glitter (Mr Olsdal especially seems to have taken a BeDazzler to his guitars and cuffs).
Playing to the faithful (France has always been something of a spiritual home for the band, the French love Brian Molko’s antics and fluent French), it was clear that everyone, including the band, was in great spirits. The magical feedback between band+audience was palpable – it was clear from the shared smiles and winks between Molko and Olsdal during ‘Every You, Every Me‘ that things were going along swimmingly, and yes, it was going to be a night to remember. And so I was reminded once again just what an excellent band they are live – songs that are so-so on the albums are fantastically intense live (‘Devil in the Details’, ‘Battle for the Sun’, ‘The Bitter End’), with Mr Molko holding it all together with the sheer force of his personality.
The Placebo boys and girl took a well-deserved break in May and it seems they used some of that time to freshen up and tweak a few songs as well as the standard setlist – a new rhythym here, a different drum beat there, switched out lyrics and the addition of an old favourite (‘Post Blue’) and a new song they have been experimenting with (‘Trigger Happy’), but the subtraction of ‘Blind’. Good move, although I’m not entirely convinced by ‘Trigger Happy’ – it has an overtly political tone which seems a bit clumsy and misdirected. I think that generally Placebo don’t do politics that well, but I suspect that they are seeking a new direction (there is so only so long you can sing about yourself, after all), and are trying this one on for size. The bass line is good and dirty, though.
A spot of crowd surfing by Steve Forrest and a one final wave from the band to the adoring crowd, and they were off again into the rain-soaked night. Covered in someone else’s sweat and having sustained a permanent crick in my neck from trying to see around the Energizer bunny girl in front of me (the perils of being short), we went home happy, wet (the bouncer at the front had been throwing water over the obviously steamy crowd the whole night – I got wetter inside than I did waiting outside) and exhausted.
Setlist – For What It’s Worth/Ashtray Heart/Battle for the Sun/Soulmates/Speak in Tongues/Cops/EYEM/Devil in the Details/Special Needs/Meds/Julien/Breathe Underwater/NeverEnding Why/Song to Say Goodbye/Bright Lights/Special K/Bitter End
Encore- Trigger Happy/Post Blue/Infrared/Taste
Placebo play the St Jordi Club, Barcelona, tonight and can be found playing in various exotic locations throughout the summer festival season.