Placebo | 11.07.06

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placeboThe show began fast and with an onslaught of distorted guitars. The band sounded great and they seemed to be in a fun, playful mood, acknowledging the audience and getting everyone involved.

 

Nokia Theatre, New York City

It was a special evening for anyone lucky enough to have a ticket to this sold-out New York City show. From the moment you stepped inside, you could sense that there was a special buzz in the air and that there wasn't a better place to see Placebo-the glamorous U.K rock, noise-pop trio-than the cozy yet extravagant Nokia Theatre. After a solid opening set by co-headliners She Wants Revenge, it was all anticipation while the lights dimmed and the stage was prepared for Placebo.

While the opening synth sequence to "Infra-Red" played over the house P.A, Placebo drummer Steve Hewitt took the stage and was greeted with a warm reception from the audience. Next out was flamboyant guitarist/bassist Stefan Olsdal, wearing an open black leather vest that exposed his chest. As the opening verse was about to begin, the man of the evening, Placebo front manBrian Molko, quickly took the stage sporting black slacks with a black dress shirt and yellow tie to begin what would be a blistering, unrelenting set.

The show opened with five heavy doses of Meds, beginning with the electro-heavy "Infra-Red" then transitioning into the moody title track "Meds" and the hard, melodic rock of "Because I Want You."

"This song has nothing to do with transvestites, but nonetheless it's called ‘Drag'," teased Molko with a sly, boyish smile before beginning the catchy, punk-pop laced song.

A crew member came out and quickly fastened a vocal-distorting gadget to Molko's wireless mic as the band began their dark, futuristic track "Space Monkey." Molko flailed around the stage, at one point jumping down into the audience to shake hands and greet fans on each side while singing the verses.

The show began fast and with an onslaught of distorted guitars. The band sounded great and they seemed to be in a fun, playful mood, acknowledging the audience and getting everyone involved.

Slowing down the tempo of the show and making things more intimate, Placebo launched into the brooding ballad "Sleeping With Ghosts" with its memorable chorus line, "Soul mates never die." Continuing the mellow mood, the band followed with their somber, expressive track, "I Know" from their 1996 debut album.

The band played a variety of material from all five of their albums, though the majority of the songs were from 2006's Meds. Many bands go through changes in image and sound over the duration of their careers, but Placebo's change seems so gradual and natural that all of the material blends well together and sounds cohesive.

Raising the tempo again, Placebo kicked in with " Song to Say Goodbye," the closing track from Meds. Sustaining the frantic mood, Placebo followed with "Every You, Every Me" from their second album, 1998's Without You I'm Nothing. With the crowd still buzzing, they slowed things back down with a touching performance of "Special Needs" from 2004's Sleeping With Ghosts.

Sweat pouring from their faces, Placebo continued on, stopping only to change guitars (which they did between every song) before kicking into their next number. The band put in spirited and lively performances on their next three tracks, "One of a Kind," "Without You I'm Nothing" (sans the special appearance by David Bowie), and the old crowd favorite "Bionic."

Things got intense when the next song started, the classic "Special K," which Molko insisted he needed crowd participation on. "It's kind of like American Idol, only it isn't the work of Satan," he teased, to the delight of the audience.

As they played, they left it up to the crowd to fill in all of the lines he didn't sing. Molko gave disapproving looks and scowled while offering words of encouragement to the audience to sing louder, and only until the crowd sang till they had no voices left did he seem satisfied.

When it seemed as if the show has reached its crescendo, the intro to the fan favorite "Bitter End" began, only to crank things up yet another notch. Instead of singing the second verse, Molko took that as an opportunity to introduce the band, including the two additional members they have brought on tour who are multi-instrumentalists alternating between triggering software-based sequences, playing keyboard, guitar, and bass to fill out Placebo's sound as their arrangements have become more intricate.

The band finished with their touching cover of Kate Bush's "Running Up That Hill." They said their thanks, waved goodbye, and that was it...

...until the encore. The band came back out to the roar of an audience that sounded much larger than the Nokia Theatre's 2,100-person capacity. The band launched into a visceral performance of "Taste in Men" which featured some awkward yet amusing dancing by Olsdal. Placebo closed the show with the contemplative "20 Years" and ended what was a special night for everyone in attendance. Saying goodnight, Placebo said they would be back soon. Let's hope so. | Christopher Sewell

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