Placebo at Brixton Academy
Goth rockers prove their gender-bending brand of glam is as relevant today as it was 20 years ago...
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For almost 20 years, Placebo have been the soundtrack of gay teenage angst. Even Team GT remember those confusing early years, struggling with sexuality, but somehow comforted by the ever-erogenous Brian Molko (can you believe he's 41?!) singing about his Taste in Men.
And judging by the crowd at their first of two major shows at Brixton Academy last night, that trend has continued through. Fans of all ages, sizes, genders and sexual persuasions are here, belting back words to classics new and old - whether it's Loud Like Love's Too Many Friends or Every You Every Me, a song that is forever engrained in 90s pop culture.
On top of that, The Bitter End is still the post-punk behemoth of raging guitar distortion and sinister undertones it was ten years ago, which brings the main set to a close, and we're going to go on record to say that Placebo are the only band who can ever get away with covering Kate Bush (their now iconic version of Running Up That Hill rounds out the encore).
Like the sexually-confused teen exploring his or her own urges for the first time, Placebo are still a rock and roll band who continue to experiment. On one hand, they're brash and brazen, with furious Sonic Youth guitar played with reckless abandon, and on the other, they're balls-out glam rock, never shameful about their own self-indulgent tendencies.
As a band, Molko, Stefan Olsdal and Steve Forrest are tight. They never miss a beat, which is a testament to the nearly two decades of hard graft to earn themselves the status of the biggest alternative rock group this country has ever produced.
The biggest weapon in their arsenal, though, remains Molko's nasal, haunting vocal. Iconic, timeless, and never to be replicated, you couldn't have asked for a better voice to tell Placebo's debauched tales of gender-bender, sex and drugs. Its why newer material - like B3, Scene of the Crime and Rob the Bank - is met with the same rapturous applause and adulation as the old favourites. It's safe to say that, even after all these years, the Placebo effect is still very much a reality.
Words: Ryan Butcher (@RyanJohnButcher)