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Placebo

with The Vasco Era




If you thought deep purple lipstick went out with the angsty Nineties, you are sorely mistaken friend! Come one, come all. Come technogoths, noob emos and dirty rockers, for a double bill like no other. The Vasco Era opened the night with a white-hot, heaving dirty rock cover of the Beatles' 'Why Don't We Do it in the Road?' and, having seen the band a couple years back at Laneway Festival, I was vouching for them and their vigorous live presence.

  

A raucous, acerbic set, topped off with the live favourite 'Honey Bee' - a scalding original. Later in the night, Placebo frontman Brian Molko declared The Vasco Era "his new favourite Australian band"- and the Molko's praise is not easily earned.

  

A slight anxiety billowed over me like so much Goth sweat as Placebo made their arrival known. I had been waiting for this night since I was sixteen- when I first discovered the androgynous industrial rock charm of the three-piece- and I worried; would I be forever disappointed?

  

My musical heart has been broken before. Luckily, I needn't have worried, Placebo put on a blinder. They predominately played tracks from last year's Battle for the Sun (some have said, and I have been inclined to agree, that this was perhaps a negatory decision and that some classic Placebo tracks were sadly culled in place of newer filler tracks).

  

Opening with 'For What It's Worth', crazy eyes Molko and co. got into it flying, coming guitar-heavy, and thanks to their beautiful new drummer, percussion-drenched. They were full, chaotic, insane. Sales of energy drinks went down, we didn't need them.

  

Slower, more marauding tracks like 'Soulmates Never Die' and 'Special Needs' (both from the substantially more morose record Sleeping with Ghosts made it through, but it was 'Every You, Every Me' that finally kicked the crowd in the head.

  

The modern classic is perhaps the band's best-known track, not least of all for its inclusion of the Cruel Intentions soundtrack (whatever happened to Ryan Philippe?).

  

"Like the naked leads the blind/ I know I'm selfish, I'm unkind/ Sucker love, I always find someone to bruise and leave behind", wailed Molko and the crowd punched the air in fond remembrance for that rockin' summer of 1999.

  

More notes from the Battle for the Sun book; 'Ashtray Heart' ("Cenicero, mi Cenicero!"), 'Julien' and 'The Never Ending Why' before a dip into Meds and the deeply heartbreaking 'Song to Say Goodbye'.

  

And then? 'Special K' from their classic 2000 album Black Market Music, of course! Cue more crowd freak-out. And let that not sound judgemental; I was freaking out as much as someone wedged like a doorsnake in between prickly emo lasses and their mothers could.

  

I must give credit to Brian Molko on his vocal magic, he's really kept it going all these years. On a tangent, does Molko has a romantic affiliation with his cigarettes? First the "ashtray girl" in 'This Picture' and now his 'Ashtray Heart'…hmm, something to ponder on the tram.

  

Now, I must pose the query to musos and music-types; how do they construct a setlist? What motives do they have? My hypothesis for tonight's various song choices was to plug the latest album. This much is clear.

  

Having negated Placebo favourites like 'Nancy Boy', 'Pure Morning', 'Without You I'm Nothing' and 'This Picture', and having played almost half the latest record, it was clear Placebo wanted to remind people of their latter output.

  

Nevertheless, ending with Black Market Music's sultry 'Taste in Men' (a decidedly weak ender, I think- wouldn't 'The Bitter End' or cult favourite 'Running Up That Hill' have been more appropriate?), Placebo left their Australian fans in their dashing, ferocious Placebo way and, really, who could have asked for anything more?

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