Review: Placebo, HMV Picture House

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IT may not be on quite the same violent scale as that pub fight scene from Trainspotting – no lassies have ever been glassed as far as we know – but Placebo are a band who have drawn extreme reactions ever since they first hit the charts in the mid-1990s.

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The Placebo effect is such that they inspire either furious devotion or furious derision; they are either original and edgy or derivative and contrived. Truth told, the cosmopolitan trio of Scots-American singer Brian Molko, Swedish bassist Stefan Olsdal and American drummer Steve Forrest are simply a better-than-average rock band with the occasional penchant for truly epic rock songs.

If you are one of the naysayers, it’s likely you weren’t at the HMV Picture House, such was the palpable sense of excitement emanating from a sold-out crowd.

Predictably, the object of desire among the throngs of emo ghouls in attendance was the androgynous Molko, who was once brilliantly described as a “drug-crazed sex dwarf”.

“Sorry for being away for so long,” said the pint-sized singer, whose band were playing their first gig for eight months last night. “We’ve had babies to raise, nervous breakdowns to have, and treatment centres to attend.”

After an opening quartet of For What It’s Worth, Ashtray Heart, Battle For The Sun and Soulmates, the band threw fan favourite Every You Every Me into the mix before a broken pedal brought things to a halt for 15-20 minutes.

No matter, Molko was soon back giving his best Marc Bolan impersonation to shrieks of approval that wouldn’t be out of place at a JLS concert.

Teenage Angst, one of their earliest hits, the rarely played Black Eyed, and the spine-tingling Meds were among the highlights – though truth told there was hardly a duff moment.

Clearly enjoying being back on stage after their short sabbatical, Placebo finished the night off in style with a five-song encore that included an arresting cover of Kate Bush’s Running Up That Hill and the salaciously-titled Taste In Men.

Say what you like about them, but Placebo certainly know how to put on a show.