Concert Review: Placebo, October 15, Sound Academy


Sometimes you leave a band behind, and sometimes, a band leaves you behind.

This was the ultimate theme for me last Wednesday night as I saw Placebo live.

To me, Placebo was always this upstart band in the late nineties with a love of Bowie, a mischievous, androgynous frontman and a swath of lyrics that are mysterious at best and nonsensical at worse. I mean, c’mon, look at some of the lyrics of Pure Morning:

A friend in needs a friend indeed,
A friend with weed is better,
A friend with breasts and all the rest,
A friend who’s dressed in leather,

A friend in needs a friend indeed,
A friend who’ll tease is better ,
Our thoughts compressed,
Which makes us blessed,
And makes for stormy weather,

A friend in needs a friend indeed,
My Japanese is better,
And when she’s pressed she will undress,
And then she’s boxing clever

Seriously, what the hell was that about? Nobody really knows.

Back in the day, they were fresh, different and exciting. Their loud and aggressive sound was everything that Britpop wasn’t and let’s all face it, Britpop at that time had withered down to the likes of Cast and Gay Dad. I was quite a fan of them up to their third third album after which for some reason, I started to think they were old news and decided to look into other directions.

Yet, they moved on. The concert I saw on Wednesday was completely not what I had expected. Being old and seeing mostly older bands, I had expected that Placebo would follow a standard pattern – some new songs, old song, new song and then all the hits … which in my mind were tracks like “Pure Morning”, “Nancy Boy” and “36 Degrees.” Instead, Placebo did follow a similar pattern, only instead, their hits section was filled with songs after the early 00’s.

It was at this moment I realized that while I had partially abandoned Placebo as a band in 2003 or so, the band had continued on and dare I say, improved their material (and success) in the past decade.

I first saw Placebo in 2001 in Edmonton during their Black Market Music tour. Back then, they were an impressive three piece band. Since then, they have grown to include additional musicians. The group played over 90 minutes at Sound Academy and sounded rather good. Brian Molko seemed more comfortable as a front man than he was almost a decade and a half ago, egging on the fans at the right time and generally appreciating the fans as a whole.

The group played tracks from their entire discography, including tunes I have never heard of off their most recent release Loud Like Love which was pretty successful globally. The new material (by which I mean, music I hadn’t heard) all sounded pretty great and, dare I say, Molko’s songwriting has improved dramatically. The crowd at the Sound Academy loved it anyway. They play a really good brand of rock that was perfect for a stressed out individual such as myself.

Obviously, I was there for some of the older material and despite it’s limited appearances, it still gave me chills. “Every You and Every Me” was great despite sounding slightly rushed. You can almost make a case that it was one of the defining songs of the late 90s, having been a big hit and also being the feature song from Cruel Intentions, one of the more defining movies for the young’uns of the 90s (despite being based on a story from the 1700s).

My other favorite moment from the show was during the encore, when they sang their incredible cover of Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill.” Placebo has always done great covers (check out their version of T-Rex’s “20th Century Boy”). It is one of my favorite covers ever and to hear it live was great. It also brought back memories of the OC, since it was the track that started off season 4 after Marissa had died in a contract dispute accident (Neither the show or Mischa Barton survived that one. I made this joke five years ago sadly:

Check out this OC video *chills*

Apparently it was also used for Shawn Michaels vs Undertaker and also ,Vampire Diaries.

Anyways, I am rambling, but to summarize: Placebo – still good live as ever, have released many good songs since their initial push and I’m sad I didn’t really know those tracks because it would have made for a smashing good time instead of merely a good time.

Posted on by Ricky in Concerts

About Ricky

Britpop lovin Chinaman, consumer of all things irrelevant. Toronto Raptors fan.

One Response to Concert Review: Placebo, October 15, Sound Academy

  1. Eliah

    Thank you for the review! I saw them live in Belgium…Really good!

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