LIVE: Placebo @ Albert Hall, Manchester

By Will Whitby

Tonight’s show saw Placebo play a career spanning set list as they returned for the second leg of their 20th Anniversary Tour. Those 20 years have seen the band rise from the mid-90s London alternative scene, producing seven albums, five of those reaching top ten, and 11 top ten singles along the way. Having cancelled their show at Blackpool’s Empress Ballroom due to venue repairs the band quickly rescheduled to Manchester’s Albert Hall. The former large church hall played its part in providing a gothic edge to Placebo’s show.

Opening with 1998’s ‘Pure Morning’ the driving introduction erupted the night as the frontman Brian Molko and towering bassist Stefan Olsdal took center stage. “Manchester was the first town we got a guitar nicked” revealed Molko as he welcomed the crowd to their 20th birthday party.

Placebo are a band proud of their image and excel themselves in an intimate live environment. To do so, Molko, demanded that all phones and cameras were to be put away as to center the attention on the stage. Most did listen to the jibe at modern concert culture, however a brave few did try to snap some photos again. This didn’t quite go to plan as Molko stopped, 2014’s ‘Loud Like Love’ to call out a member audience who didn’t think he was serious.

The greatest hits setlist was cherry-picked tracks that cemented Placebo as one of the UK’s premier alternative acts. Fans are drawn to Placebo as they vocalize the issues that are rarely covered with such artistry. 2014’s big chorus anthem ‘Too Many Friends’ touches on isolation in this modern internet age, 2003’s ‘Bitter End’ sees harsh scratchy indie guitars dictate a track based largely on classic book ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’ and 2001’s ‘Special K’ is an anthem for those struggling with addiction and finding love.

Images of David Bowie bestowed the backboards of the stage during 1999’s ‘Without You I’m Nothing.’ The band collaborated with Bowie for this track as he added additional vocals to the piece and still remains a great influence on the band. The phones-off rule brought the entire show closer together and made the gig feel more intimate and forced the fans to take in the moment- however, it did make Punktastic’s note taking a bit more tricky.

Molko approached the crowd arms open to thank them as the set drew to a triumphant close. Bassist, Stefan Olsdal, emerged with a rainbow designed bass for hit ‘Nancy Boy’ as an image to show the bands roots and unique importance to LGBT culture. It was also quite fitting that the day in question was National Coming Out Day. The set ended with the chilling Kate Bush cover ‘Running Up That Hill’ as the Manchester dissipated into the equally chilly Manchester twilight.