Wednesday, 25 October 2017

Placebo live at Brixton Academy - 20 years

Brian and Bowie
Disclaimer: much of this blog is about my personal life and idiosyncrasies as much as the gig. 
I think I've only gone to see a band on my own three times, and each time has been really great. No one to worry about, just get to the front and have your one on one time with the object of your musical desires.
Going to see Placebo on my own was a bit of a weird one, though. You know when a band is so entwined into your relationship that every song is your song and then that relationship ends horribly and you have to try and rebuild your relationship with the band because you don't know how to rebuild the relationship with that other person and a relationship with a band is easier to manage. That.
I have a really weak bladder so employed my strict 'no fluids after 4pm rule'. I took Smint, Fruitella and a packet of Randoms instead of a drink. Randoms are actually pretty good, even the foam ones. I need to invest in a large bag of those. The only sweet I would have also liked was orange Tic-Tacs. They are great for gigs. Top tip there for you.
So the queue was massive but as usual it's full of short girls (hello, me) so not too bad, except the woman in front of me with what looked like a dead Labrador on her head. So I got into the venue and went straight to the barrier. Left seems to be my preferred side. The first layer of the barrier was taken but there was a gap just the row behind where you can still position yourself so you're standing on the metal and you're quite immovable. However, the young Grotbags tapped me on the shoulder and said her friend was standing there but would be back in a minute. Those two things are not like the other! I went 'Er OK' with no intention of moving for the next four hours. The friend comes back from the toilet and I hear Grotbags Junior go 'I tried'. Barely. Toilet girl then taps me on the shoulder and asks me to move. Now help me out here, but do people have the right to guard invisible spaces for their friends? The answer is 'fuck no.' I went 'how can it be your spot if I'm standing in it?' Which I feel was a good point. There was much whining and complaining. I said 'I'm in here on my own and didn't go to the toilet.' i.e. I planned ahead, bitches. They continued to moan and groan and my final word on the matter was 'are we still talking about this?' God I miss arguing with strangers since I stopped driving. Thank god for the internet. 
I'm only small anyway so it's easy to see over me. Plus if you're guarding the barrier, stand on the barrier, dummy. Never cared. Later, drunk men come lolloping in, punching women in the face a foot from me. Worry about that shit, not an imagined turf war with me. 
The support band were called like The Musty Hoops or something (yeah it wasn't that) and were a bit proggy. They had something about them (I'd fuck all three of them if it was the Apocalypse or something - sorry to objectify skinny young men but welllllllll) but they were no Silversun Pickups (a previous Placebo support band I'd seen and enjoyed.) 
So I'm just going to do this review from memory and not look up any facts from it. Placebo are celebrating 20 years (woo) although that does give them the excuse to play the song Twenty Years (as if they needed one) which I despise. There was a video package first with a video for Every You, Every Me I'd never seen before where Brian is mooching about the ladies loos. It was REALLY good! Have they dug that out from somewhere? I'm sure that's not the real video. Unfortunately that was all the Every You, Every Me we were going to get tonight, sad face. 
So they opened with Pure Morning, which I was sure Brian had stopped singing because he said the lyrics were crap. Did I dream that? I feel like that was a thing at one point. Great song, though. Second song was Loud Like Love, which was brilliant! His voice sounded good. It was only after that when he stopped and told us that he had a bad throat: 'I woke up sounding like the guy from The National then lost my voice two weeks ago' that I noticed his bad throat. He said he was going to have to sing some of the songs a bit differently, which was not good news. Brian is a one for reimagining (code for 'ruining') songs at the best of times. But he said it was going to make the night special. And in a way, it did, because him not being able to hit the high notes, made me appreciate all the times he DOES. Which I just took for granted before as he is so fucking good live. I cannot tell you the amount of days I have spent watching Placebo gigs on YouTube. He just always delivers. Even tonight he delivered as much as could, while sick, which is more than you get from Morrissey, ha. 
Brian also asked people to help him sing along (no problem) and to put away phones as they distract him (good call).
This pic would be better without security guy's head
Did I mention Brian's hair? It's an interesting look he's going for at the moment - sort of a Friar Tuck vibe. I wish he'd shave it off, he looked so good in the Meds video. I was also struck by how little he was tonight! Weird because I've seen him a few times. I do like my popstars diminutive: see also Conor Oberst. Another thing I noticed was he changes guitar after every single song! Talking of guitars, how cool is Stefan? I just love their relationship. 
So the next song (and I will forget some) was Jesus' Son which I really like but he had to sing it one key down so it was really hard to sing along to. I noticed his voice was properly shot then and was wondering if he would change the set list accordingly and sing loads of dirgy ones. Sure enough (not in this order) we got Twenty Years, Soulmates Never Die (that was actually good), Special Needs (not too bad) and the dreary Devil in the Details (no). Too Many Friends should have been amazing but he just couldn't get up there - that song is ALL about the high notes. The music sounded great and I felt for him and I love that song so much. I'm glad he didn't cancel the gig because there was still a great atmosphere and it was good fun. For me it was very emotional. Exit Wounds in particular was painful because that is from my relationship break up album and lyrically that song is very apropos so I just got transported back a year and a half and it fucking hurt. There's no getting over some songs, even if they helped you at the time.
The best songs Brian sang were ones without too many high notes (which is a shame as my favourite thing about him is when his mouth flips in two like a muppet and you can see all his fillings). There were glimpses of high notes but not many and it was sad because I know how brilliant they would have been and I had a great view where I was (haha).
A lovely surprise for me though was I Know, which I looooooove, and they did a really good section where they played Protect Me From What I Want (although I do prefer Protege Moi cos it's sexier and the lyrics feel less stupid in French), For What It's Worth (go no butter!) which his vocals sounded good on and Without You I'm Nothing, where Brian was forced to sing the David Bowie part because it's deeper. Pictures of David Bowie were on the screen behind him and I cried, but it was nothing to do with Bowie. 
They tried with the big hits: Special K and Slave to the Wage sort of worked with a lot of audience participation, The Bitter End held up reasonably (thank God for all that guitar) and Infra Red struggled but is always a joy. The crowd seemed mega into it and supportive the whole way though. The saddest part was no Every Me, Every yoooooooooouuuuuuuuu because you can't go 'yooooooooooouuuuuu' when you have a bad throat. But that's my favourite. So that was really disappointing. But I just don't see how he could have done it because he just couldn't hit the notes. You could see him struggling. He still put on a fantastic show and the band were really great. The light show and graphics always look brilliant at Placebo gigs (take note Morrissey). Oh and he also sang Nancy Boy for the encore but the tune/ vocals was all over the shop (but then that long deviated from the original version anyway). I still love 'eyeholes in a paper bag' though. Magic.
Should Brian have cancelled the gig? The crowd seemed to love it from where I was (in that girl's spot!). I personally needed to see Brian and I don't regret going. I know on my next YouTube Placebo gig binge, it will make me appreciate those high notes and fillings all the more. I realise now how important his voice is, and the aspects of it I appreciate, and how it's something that helps me get by. 
So as we left the bar very handily put cups of water on the side, which was much appreciated, so here's the shout out for the water. Fruitella can only get one so far in life.
I'm not sure this review even was a review or relevant to anyone else, but I felt like I needed to document it somehow, so here it is. Now I really need to go to bed. PS: My feet hurt. Night!