Saturday, September 23, 2006

Before The Bourbon Kicked In

Placebo – Live In Concert

Ah Placebo. Few other bands are so frustratingly adept at failing to deliver. They're great songwriters but when it comes to performance, whether live or on CD, they always seem to not be giving it their best. I last saw them in concert at the Big Day Out 2001. Their set was professional and I doubt anyone would have walked out thinking it was poor, but five years on the only thing I remember about it is their performance of 'Black-Eyed', which I did particularly enjoy, and some obnoxious random teenybopper asking me to let her sit on my shoulders. They then proceeded to be blown right off the stage by Rammstein, a band that could never be accused of delivering a forgettable show.

Nevertheless I'm sure these guys at least have the potential to give a great concert so I dutifully headed down to the Hordern this Thursday past to give them another chance. The opening act was The Howling Bells, who I had never heard and in fact have still never heard because I was distracted by a sudden craving for an inappropriate amount of bourbon (see previous post). Placebo themselves were better than the last time I saw them. At times they showed the same lack of passion but at others they quite sufficiently managed to rock the fuck out on the loud songs and to touch my alcohol sodden heart on the soft ones. There was also a really good crowd in attendance. Placebo are really past their prime in terms of popularity so for once I got to attend a big concert that was more or less devoid of munters and bimbos who are only there to brag to their friends about it at school the next day. Still too many emo kids around mind you. Anyway it was a good audience with most people dancing and enjoying themselves, a sight that is regrettably rare to come by at big concerts.

The setlist (to the best of my recollection):




Because I Want You To


Sleeping With Ghosts


Song To Say Goodbye

Every You Every Me

Follow The Cops Back Home

Special Needs

One Of A Kind

Special K

The Bitter End


Running Up That Hill


Twenty Years

They suffered from the same old lack of vitality on probably about half the songs. 'Song To Say Goodbye' in particular didn't meet my expectations, but they seemed to gain momentum as the set went on. 'Special Needs' was very heartfelt and 'One Of A Kind' was delivered with a lot of guts. Placebo's specialty is a kind of melancholy romanticism and when you get a whole concert full of people singing their hearts out to that kind of music it's one of the best kinds of shared experiences. The highlight of the concert was 'Sleeping With Ghosts' which achieved exactly what I just described. The lowlight was the two one song encores. What's with that?

So in spite of (and probably because of) a few real highlights Placebo are still a frustrating band. They could easily be so much better!


Joel said...

Seems I shall continue to live in envy of your concert attendence!

Jon said...

Yeah although you'll probably not mind missing the next few. Lamb of God and Soulfly are next month...

Joel said...

Hmm yes, won't be to concerned about those guys. ;)

Jon said...

I'm also seeing Carole King and Muse later on, but I'm guessing you wouldn't be too fussed about missing them either.