Placebo At 3Arena – Photos & Review
Alt rock darlings Placebo made a welcome return to Dublin this evening, promising a night full of melancholic nostalgia. This year marks the 20th anniversary of their eponymous debut and cult classic which they recorded in Dublin’s Westland Studios. As if there wasn’t enough cause for celebration, tonight is singer Brian Molko’s birthday too, who leads his bandmates onstage to kick things off.
Perhaps their best known track is the opener, with the opening chords of ‘Pure Morning’ evoking a deafening roar from the crowd. While possibly the best opening track this reviewer has ever seen, it’s perhaps overly ballsy playing your best known material from the outset. Nevertheless, Molko’s nasally vocals have remained intact these past 20 years, and if anything have improved. The tightness of the six piece band before us is staggering, every musician acting like a cog in a well oiled machine. ‘Loud like Love’ keeps the momentum going while the new ‘Jesus’ Son’ takes things back a notch. 2003’s ‘Special Needs’ gets the crowd singing along again in its emo drenched melody, and ‘Too Many Friends’ stops things getting too happy with its dark and self deprecating lyrics.
After such a great beginning to the set, the middle drags a little, with most of the crowd losing some of their energy during the less known tunes. The band stay on top of things however, and kick the crowd back to attention with the gritty ‘Space Monkey’, with Stefan Olsdal getting up close and personal with the crowd. The synthesised ‘Exit Wounds’ follows, and showcases the band’s ability to deviate away from their usual sound. Molko engages the crowd now, expressing his eternal gratitude and enjoying a few minutes pause to enjoy the never ending applause from the emphatic crowd. Billed as the end of the melancholy section of the set, ‘Slave to the Wage’ gets the adrenaline pumping again with upbeat guitar riffs and top class backing vocals from the band.
The grungy ‘Special K’ gets the crowd even more pumped, with most of the front row now trying to clamber their way closer to Molko as he manoeuvres himself closer and closer between sections. Closing the set on a high, there’s no doubt the band will return. Return they do, but only after an unnecessarily long break. The ultimate angst anthem, ‘Nancy Boy’ is probably the tune all have been waiting for the most, and it does not disappoint. ‘Infared’ closes the gig once and for all… Oh wait, there’s another encore. While possibly petty, there’s a certain self indulgence that’s tolerated with encores, but giving yourself two is perhaps pushing it. Again, we wait, but to be fair it’s more than worth it. A colossal cover of Kate Bush classic ‘Running up that Hill’ closes the show, and couldn’t be faulted. Molko’s unusual vocals do the song more than enough justice, giving it a charm like never before.
20 years on, Placebo are more than deserving of their stadium status. The band aren’t ones for engaging in nostalgia usually, but tonight is different. Perhaps one of the most iconic alternative bands ever, their performance tonight reminds us why. Who said rock is dead?