Placebo - Manchester Apollo - 3.3.04

Isn't it great real life isn't like fairy tales or otherwise Placebo would have split up the moment Brian Molko started losing his hair and lost his Samson like ability to write some of the greatest tunes of the past few years. Constantly mocked by the cynical jaded English hacks the band have forged out into the rest of Europe where they regular appears as headliners on the Festival circuit and can sell out shows in a matter of hours. Over here the devotion is still the same and kids worship at the Temple of Molko, the same as their gender bending brothers did a few years previous before they in turn got married, had the kids and got the mortgage - the whole suburban ideal no less and a far cry from the hedonistic lifestyle of the sleaze machine that is Placebo.

Tonight's, a gift to the fans who've been waiting for a follow up to "Sleeping With Ghosts" for what seems like an eternity and one of only a handful of shows in the UK before the band retreat back to the studio to record the next album. Last time we saw Placebo was just under a year ago following the release of the aforementioned 4th album and expectations were high. Many saw the album as a return to form after a couple of disappointing album releases and the gig lived up to the album with a bolstered sound courtesy of and additional synth and guitar player allowing gangly bass player Stefan to step to the fore. If the first 30 second blast from tonight's opener is anything to go by then - gone are the days of tinny weak sounding Placebo and in place if a rock band who can compete with Depeche Mode or Muse for sheer scale. Brian Molko shakes and shimmies like a younger Dave Gahan, only slightly more effeminate and incredibly f**king tiny, while Stefan threatens to shag his bass at every opportunity.

"Every Me Every You" marks things of from the outset as one of those clear highlights, but it's amazing how many of the hits just keep flooding back. "This Picture", "The Bitter End" from the more recent releases through to older classic such as "Special K" and "Taste In Men". There's a clear line throughout their whole career which is definable Placebo, but it doesn't matter that the bands formula hasn't really changed or adapted over the years, a few electonic blips really don't count, when they write songs so infectious and as potent as their back catalogue shows.

Placebo are a band at the peak of their career. They've got tunes such as "English Summer Rain" which wipe the floor with their earlier material, things which once irritated such as Molko's desire to rub people up the wrong way seems to have levelled out and the band seem happy just being who they are and playing to their devoted fanbase. The big question is will they carry on and attempt something new or will they fall the same way as Suede and temporary split to regain their creative juices. Only time will tell, but it would be a shame if they split when they're still playing blinders like they did tonight.

Alex McCann
Photo's by Karen McBride -

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