PLACEBO | LIVE REVIEW
Motorpoint Arena Cardiff, Sat 14 Oct
Like an annoying younger sibling, Placebo were considered a bit of a nuisance to the Britrock scene in the mid-90s. Using androgynous images and lyrics, the powers that be would rather they were swept under the rug. But they wouldn’t be stopped and now, 20 years on, they are back in Cardiff to celebrate this career milestone.
With their jarring riffs and off-kilter arrangements, support band Husky Loops are not an easy band to get into, but their artrock leanings, in the vein of Death From Above 1979, eventually win over the crowd. The press tell me that big things lie ahead for this UK band. We’ll have to wait and see.
A good-sized crowd has now assembled to see Brian Molko and company do their thing tonight, which kicks off with a special 20 Years Of Placebo video package, before the familiar guitar ring heralding the start of Pure Morning kicks in. Leaving the crowd hanging until the last second, Molko saunters onstage to screams from the hardcore fans.
Members have come and gone over the years, but the core of Placebo is still in place. Molko’s whine, still intact after all these years, over Stefan Odsal’s pulsing rhythms are the heartbeat of this band. This was always going to be a career-spanning set and the band have chosen wisely, playing picks from all their albums. They go way back to the self-titled debut with I Know while Without You I’m Nothing is accompanied by a David Bowie video tribute, paying homage to their performance with the great man at the 1999 Brit Awards.
Slave To The Wage and Special K, from 2000’s Black Market Music are played with plenty of gusto, before the first part of the set is closed with the crowdpleasing The Bitter End. After a short interval, the band blast back onstage with the track that broke them, the raucous Nancy Boy, followed by a rousing version of Infra-red. It was entirely possible that they came back for a second encore, as per other nights on the tour where they’ve covered Kate Bush’s Running Up That Hill, but this reviewer had to leave to ensure safe passage home, as did a majority of the crowd.
Nevertheless, Placebo delivered on their promise with a solid set that reminded us what the band are capable of. I’m looking forward to the 40th celebration already.
words CHRIS ANDREWS photos KEVIN PICK