20 years on, 8 albums later, boundaries still being broken and a fan base as loyal as any – what better excuse to celebrate? And celebrate we did.
As Brian Molko and Stefan Olsdal take to the stage, their contrasting fringes encapsulate the difference and diversity that this creative collaboration has come to represent. And while tonight is no fringe event, Placebo once again invite us to embrace the unexpected, the outrageous, the emergent and, with a back catalogue to die for, the established. And the Leeds crowd isn’t disappointed.
In a set list that dances across both decades of Placebo’s output, we’re treated to an acknowledged mixture of melancholy and celebration, including poignant reflections on those who have passed – firstly Leonard Cohen and then later David Bowie’s tear provoking, visual inclusion to ‘Without You I Am Nothing’ in particular prompting awe and cheers in equal measure.
From the calm of Soulmates to the stomping of For What It’s Worth, Molko’s voice remains distinctive, charged and unmistakable. Pitch perfect and perfectly pitched, he works the crowd well with few words – far fewer than the number of guitar changes he either endures or embraces. The set culminates with the aptly titled Bitter End. Ears are ringing and hearts are beating as loud as the sounds that have been blasted through the PA. And that’s loud. But the production is sublime and and we’ve willingly eaten out of the hands that have fed us treat after treat for the past two hours. Molko and Olsdal appear equally satisfied and so they should be.
With encores of Teenage Angst, Nancy Boy and Infra Red, the crowd depart delighted after an endearing but spine chilling version of Kate Bush’s Running Up That Hill.
As we walk back out into the cold evening air, discussion and debate focus on whether their rendition is better than the original. Coming from a band who’ve managed to remain original and who just get better, consensus seems it’s a no brainer.
(Given the season, it seems only fair that we share some love for Jesus’ Son ~Ed.)