Placebo - London Alexandra Palace,
"Someone call the ambulance... there's gonna be an accident!!!!!"
Okay. So Brian's getting increasingly shorter, balder and unable to understand why anyone ever liked Placebo in the first place. The public zeitgeist against his band has made it incomprehensible to him that anyone could ever enjoy a Placebo gig anymore. In fact most of you reading this are probably guilty of thinking the same. Well ladies and gentlemen, I come here tonight to tell you that you are all wrong. Eventually.
First things first. By the standards of tonight's audience, I am old. I'm not that old really. But at the ripe old age of 24 I feel as though I should be asking these people if they want a nice sandwich or a cup of Nesquick. It doesn't help that my accompanying friend is four years younger than me and much better looking to boot. The bastard.
Fact # 1: Alexandra Palace is impossible to get to.
Alexandra Palace exists somewhere in London apparently. I think this is a myth made up by unscrupulous train and bus route planners to make as much money out of stupid people like me and to cause as much stress and chaos as humanly possible. And it bloody works too. It's fucking huge, and is situated somewhere near to the Moon.
Fact # 2: Placebo like their new album. A lot.
They like it so much that the vast, overwhelming (and I use that in the literal sense) majority of tonight's gig comes straight from it. Which would be fine if they didn't have so many other (and dare I say, better) songs to choose from. With their fifth album, Placebo have come to their natural conclusion with "Meds". Let's be honest here, Placebo have been bashing out the same song for the last ten years anyway. Sure, they might throw in a little bit of electronic beepery at times but essentially, they're all either "Nancy Boy" or, if it's a slower one, "Lady Of The Flowers" re-hashed. Again, which is fine because they're good songs. One thing Placebo cannot be considered to be is inconsistent.
Fact # 3: When Brian tells you he's going to play an old song, you should not get too excited.
Case in point here is "36 Degrees". A fine song. True it's no masterpiece but it's a dirty enough little tune. Ah, well, no it's not. Not anymore anyway. "36 Degrees" a'la Placebo 2006 is a horribly long, whining, sloooooow ballad type thing. It's done in a similar way to how they've been known to do "Teenage Angst" in the past. Which would be acceptable if they then didn't go on to destroy that very song later in the gig. In the same way. Mind you, "Come Home" and "Nancy Boy" both go off without a hitch. It kind of reminds you that Placebo CAN still pull it off when they have to.
Fact # 4: Placebo have a short memory.
This I have concluded due to the fact that album number two "Without You I'm Nothing" was represented by only one track ("Every you, Every Me"), album number three "Black Market Music" was represented by absolutely bugger all, and even album number 4 "Sleeping With Ghosts" was only represented by two songs ("Special Needs" and "The Bitter End"). Such a waste of songs! Where was "Without You I'm Nothing"?, "Taste In Men"?, "Special K"? Fine, I understand the need for them to play the new tunes but give us a bit of (and I realise the irony of this statement for a band like Placebo, but) variety please.
Fact # 5: There is nothing surprising about a Placebo gig
I think you can all understand this point. No further explanation is needed.
But most importantly...
Fact # 6: Placebo, despite their seeming inablilty to understand their audience can still put on a chuffing good show.
Stefan still struts around the stage having a bit of a dance whenever he feels it necessary and Brian is still the smallest, most gut wrenchingly arrogant frontman ever. He could do a solo cover of the "Crazy Frog" tune on a ukelele and still profess it as the greatest artistic statement anybody has ever made. And when they rock, they truly do it in style.
A tip for next time though lads. Let me pick the setlist and you'll be laughing.
Colour pix from www.efestivals.co.uk, black and whites by our very own Steve Bateman
Listen to Nancy Boy and some new stuff on Placebo's Myspace here
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