Project Description

PLACEBO

(20 years of Placebo Tour)

at AIS Arena

14 September 2017 (Live Review)

Reviewer – Benjamin Smith

Photographer – Kay Cann

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Placebo

PLACEBO — Photo Kay Cann

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Placebo are a band about which there is generally not a lot of ambivalence, people either love them or just don’t quite get it. That their first record is now turning 20 stimulates a kind of an uneasy feeling. The history of their sound is so inextricably linked to a kind of youthful angst that thinking of them as grown-ups is a little uncomfortable.

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Placebo

PLACEBO — Photo Kay Cann

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The Canberra show at AIS Arena is the final of the Australian leg of their A Place for Us to Dream tour before they return to the UK. Audience numbers are a little disappointing with the cavernous venue less than half full, but that’s probably the only critical comment anyone could make about the whole caper. The crowd is, as one would expect, an unusual collection of misfits, unlikely to be brought together by anything but this band and this show. There is of course the tribe of people defined by the cornucopia of celebrated sexualities for whom Placebo have provided a visible and much needed champion. There are the goth-pop types, drawn in by Placebo’s lyrical embrace of self-loathing and awkward disaffection. There are also the nostalgites, coming to grips with the fading of their own youth at the very moment Placebo come to face theirs.

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Deaf Havana

DEAF HAVANA — Photo Kay Cann

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The band are preceded on this tour by Deaf Havana, a typically glossy UK power pop act with bolshie guitars polished up by light keys and nicely rendered vocals. They play a well-received set of about 45 minutes or so, but by this end of the tour are clearly so acutely aware of the kind of anticipation that becomes impatience in Placebo fans they don’t linger.

The show opens with a montage of the band played on screen highlighting the two preceding decades and with Every You and Every Me played in its entirety over the screens before the band appear. When they do appear it is with a characteristic lack of fanfare. They play as a six piece with Fiona Brice being replaced on violin duties by Angela Yang, who also spends a bit of time on keys.

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Placebo

PLACEBO — Photo Kay Cann

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There is little to no crowd interaction from Molko, who prefers to let the music speak for itself. Bass player Stefan Olsdal is his usual flamboyant self and builds a silent bond with the audience without ever saying a word. At one point he emerges from the wings wielding a rainbow-motifed bass, which he proudly holds above his head in a political gesture requiring no elaboration.

They play a dynamic set, of which in my opinion, Special K is the highlight. But newer songs like Too Many Friends are also given a chance to shine and they benefit from a live airing, showcasing a depth not easy to find in the recording. One of the things that is easy to forget amidst conversations about the social and cultural significance of a band like Placebo and in particular a person like Molko is that the bulk of the band’s popularity is actually built around the songs. The songs are exceptional. The set is a cascade of perfectly crafted pop song after perfectly crafted pop song. Molko’s voice shows no sign of stress or duress. The unmistakable timbre of his vocal is extraordinary It is so able to convey the emotion to which the lyrics aspire; at times so utterly bereft, at others so defiant. As he begins to settle in to middle age and his femininity becomes more subtly implied than it had in the past, his performance and voice declare more nuanced, more complex elements than were previously determinable.

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Placebo

PLACEBO — Photo Kay Cann

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Placebo do a double encore and finish this tour with a flourish. There might not have been as many fans in attendance as the band would have liked, but the ones who did show up got everything they were hoping for and more.

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Check out Kay Cann’s gallery of this show HERE

 

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AMNPLIFY- DB

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Connect with Placebo

My nickname is “The Amnplifier”. Why? Because around here my focus is on being a conduit for providing greater outcomes that people come here for. My day to day “work” is living in the moment, and I love helping others concentrate on finding their connection to themselves through their experiences.

Why start a music environment? The truth is I love music, I love writing, and I love life. I work with musicians every day, and I feel certain that I will be until they put me in the ground. I have been managing people in businesses of some sort for over thirty five years so along the way I have developed some “wisdom” from my regular and constant “observations”.

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