I’ve reached that age where most of the bands I grew up with are performing at least a 20th anniversary tour, which is exactly what Placebo are doing, bringing their two decades of history to Australia this September. It’s nothing to be ashamed of – I survived, and so did they. For my part, Placebo helped me get here. So here are five reasons you should come share the memories with me.
1. There’s more to the band than teenage angst.
Yes, and that’s despite the fact that they actually have a song called “Teenage Angst”. Placebo’s music runs the gamut from despair-laden dirges to acidic excoriations of ex-lovers, with plenty of danceable beats and catchy choruses along the way. Not only that, but the incisive lyrics often display a strong social conscience, particularly in the band’s later releases. While “Without You I’m Nothing” will make you weep, “Trigger Happy Hands” will make you think. Be prepared for a lot of emotional gear changes at this show.
2. Brian Molko’s self-deprecating sense of humour.
The man is British after all, and despite his beguiling good looks and unique talent, Molko’s stage persona is surprisingly humble. Having seen the band for their Soundwave sideshows at Festival Hall and the Palais, I’ve seen that Molko is there not for his ego, but to share a good time. I was a casual fan before my first Placebo show, but I walked away from the Festival Hall gig a much more dedicated follower.
3. The live performance blows the studio recordings away.
Another thing I can say from experience: while Placebo’s albums are consistently of high quality, from their 1996 self-titled release to 2013’s “Loud like Love”, there’s no comparison with their live show. The band pull in the very best additional live personnel to ensure maximum sonic coverage, including Angela Chan on violin, keyboards, theremin, percussion and backing vocals, and Nick Gavrilovic on guitar, lap steel guitar, keyboards and backing vocals. You’ve never heard Placebo sound as full as they do live.
4. If you’ve ever been to a Goth or alternative nightclub, chances are you’ve danced to Placebo.
Think Goths don’t dance? Think again. While not exactly filled with heavy dubstep beats or the frenetic pace of EBM, Placebo’s big hits are guaranteed to get you moving. And remember, they’ll be delving into their whole back catalogue, so we’ll have a good chance of hearing club classics like “Every You Every Me”, “Pure Morning”, “Battle for the Sun”, “Meds”, “The Bitter End” and more.
5. They’re playing at Margaret Court Arena.
And if you’ve been following the controversy surrounding that venue lately, there’s something delicious about the androgynous Molko singing “Nancy Boy” on that particular stage. If you’re looking for a forum to recapture the rebellious punk sensibility of your youth, but you were into more melodic musical stylings than actual punk bands, this could be your moment.
Aside from anything else, it says a lot that Placebo have graduated to such a large venue. Alice Cooper will be playing the same stage a month later, to keep things in context. Placebo are a band who have most certainly paid their dues, and have a back catalogue that is well worth reflecting on. Career-spanning shows like this don’t come along very often, so make sure you get your tickets to this stellar experience while you still can. Tickets available here.