Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Live: Placebo at Brixton Academy (16 December 2013)

I arose from my pit to go to my annual gig last night (although I think I saw Desaparecidos this year too) and staggered out to Brixton Academy to see Brian and the boys (and girl). I decided on my usual no coat/ no drinks policy to get as close as possible: I didn’t count on pissing down rain and a car going through a puddle at high speed in Brixton soaking us from head to foot. Oh, well. At least any beer splashed on me after this point seemed harmless.
We just caught the end of support act Toy, who looked quite decent, and slinked down the side, so we were one place behind the barrier on the side (my favourite spot). The people around us seemed quite normal. So far, so good.
No dirgy intro vids with Placebo (I’m looking at you, Morrissey), they hit the stage promptly soon after nine, opening with crappy single B3 –‘ passion flower, catherine wheel’, check. Still it was exciting to see our Brian on the stage. I knew the set would be new album heavy which I didn’t mind as I really like the new album but they played such a lot of other songs that it didn’t seem that way. I wanted to hear a mix of brand new or quite old, and I wasn’t disappointed.
 Loud Like Love was the first one they played and ‘breathe, breathe, believe’ sounded epic at this volume (and right by the speakers).
The last album was only touched on with the Gameboy kitsch of For What It’s Worth and later, Speak in Tongues, which was pretty much the right balance (although I did miss Battle for the Sun). Me and my boyfriend exchanged glances when they played Twenty Years as neither of us like it, as it seems to go on for twenty years, but actually the second half of the song is quite good live. I might need to give it another chance. They followed it with the unmatchable Every Me, Every You (the only time a song has ever been ‘reimagined’ live to be better than the original) which really got the energy going. The couple next to me were very enthusiastic!
Too Many Friends was brilliant and made highly ironic by all the camera phone idiots filming it whilst Brian sang the line, ‘when all people do all day, is stare into a phone’. The camera phones, and the size of them, do make me feel a bit old, and the bouncers were like vultures, pouncing on anyone who was filming rather than taking a pic. One particularly annoying girl got hers knocked out of her hand by a bouncer after he’d told her a few times, and it seemed to stop working, which cheered me up immensely, as she’d been bumping into me about five minutes before. Thems the breaks, indeed.
Scene of the Crime was really good (handclaps! Washing machine!) and Rob the Bank is gloriously stupid. A nice surprise was Space Monkey, one of many tracks off Meds to follow (although sadly not Because I Want Youuuuuuuuu-ooooooo). My boyfriend recognised Space Monkey long before I did. I must admit, I still do pine for the toy megaphone. I think a computer does the voice distortion now. Still, better than when he just did it with his own hands one year. Space Monkey and all the fab Meds songs bring back memories of the best Placebo Gig EVER Rock am Ring, with the sunset going down. I think we must have watched that about 20 times. Not that I was there. But I wish I had been. There were some good visuals for Space Monkey going on at Brixton, too. Next they played Blind, which is OK, but I don’t think I can ever get over the lyrics of ‘your eyes forever glued to mine’ – ouch.
It was lovely to hear Meds (was dancing quite a bit by this point) and not at all lovely to hear the terrible Song to Say Goodbye – not helped by a vertically challenged little dick trying to pick a fight with me. ‘Is there space there for a midget?’ No there isn’t, plus I’M a midget. He ended up pushing my boyfriend, which is always delightful. I just love leaving the house and mingling with the human race!
Anyway, this ended up as a bit of a result for me, as my boyfriend moved me in front of him, out of the midget eyeline, and I ended up having a better spot, just in time for the singalong greatness of Special K. The crowd was really going mad by this time, and there was a great atmosphere. By the time the first notes of The Bitter End kicked in, the roof was off. Yeah, I said it! The roof was off. Amazing.
After the encore, they came back and did the slowed down version of Teenage Angst (I’d prefer the normal version) and the epic Running Up That Hill. I love the way Brian sings ‘God’ as ‘Gaaaaaaad’.
The best part though, were the final two songs of Post Blue ‘It’s in the water, baby’ and the unstoppable Infrared. I was amazed they did so much off Meds, and if there’s a better line on record than ‘Someone call the ambulance/ there’s gonna be an accident’ I’d like to hear it. Just a fantastic way to end.
Brian doesn’t say much, but he doesn’t need to, the songs do the talking. He and Stefan have a great rapport with the crowd, and with each other, and looked genuinely happy to be there. And despite a puddle and a self-proclaimed midget threatening to ruin things, the force than is Placebo could not be ruined. Thanks for a good night, Brian. 

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