It’s hard to believe that it will soon be 20 years since PLACEBO first released their eponymous debut album. In celebration, the band are on the road again and here are some of our photos taken at their packed Manchester Apollo show in March.
With a set for the most part dedicated to the latest album Loud Like Love, the tour has so far garnered a mixed response. Though one could argue that the band are not at their creative peak, Placebo are a band always worth seeing live, if only for the tightness of their performance, the inimitably ethereal vocals of Brian Molko, and to hear some of their classics.
Here in Manchester, it’s hardcore Placebo fan night, and spirits are high as the venue fills up. The atmosphere is friendly and Placebo certainly serve themselves well with having generated such a broad and endearing fanbase. Placebo’s legacy is safe and sound here, and despite the inevitable fight breaking out between two men just short of the front barrier, the show otherwise goes without a hitch. Molko, with his Mid-Atlantic dulcet tones, is a man of few words – something which the crowd don’t seem to mind as they can see the band putting their all into delivering their sounds to the fullest extent. There’s a deep reverence for Molko here tonight, and he receives warm cheers when he occasionally ventures to the front of the stage, thought he certainly doesn’t show any interest in hogging the limelight.
Every You, Every Me inevitably goes down well, with utterances of “The Cruel Intentions song!” buzzing round, and the crowd really gets into Too Many Friends: “My computer thinks I’m gay / I threw that piece of junk away / On the Champs- Élysées / As I was walking home.” But the set only really hots up with Meds, climaxing with The Bitter End which is smashed out with a passion. The encore is dominated by their Running Up That Hill cover, which is greeted with a melancholy singalong, bringing me to tears for its homage to one of Britain’s greatest ever singer-songwriters. It’s a fine version, but I’m now left wanting to listen again to the magical KB original, which is no bad result.
As the encore draws to an end, the band make a point of lining up and bowing to the crowd several times. Molko walks round the stage clapping his hands for minutes on end, bowing to the fans in gratitude, exuding a depth of humility I’ve never seen from an established lead singer. He’s not taking anything for granted, his prolonged and emotive exit forming a stark reminder that the band are also very aware that they’re one of the few 90s bands who are still producing and can boast a loyal fanbase. Though this was by no means the most riveting Placebo set, the commemoration tour is an important landmark for the band and their fans. Most of all, Brian Molko has sealed himself again as a significant cultural and musical inspiration, reminding us that there are true musicians and human beings out there in the industry – even if they are increasingly few and far between.