Ok, so let's get the full disclosure out of the way, shall we? I'm apparently... old. Not old enough to be pondering AARP Magazine subscriptions, mind you, but old enough to have gone to the record store (remember that?) and purchased Placebo's classic sophomore album, Without You I'm Nothing.
Basically, that album (and Placebo's glam 'n' gloom sound) holds a sacred place in my heart, as it helped to define the tone of my move from the Midwest to the Big Crapple. I was also quite partial to Placebo's most recent album, Meds; it seemed to tap into this certain "addled/emotionally-vacant-but-still-fabulous" vibe that was trickling around NYC at the time.
So I was psyched when I was offered the chance to see Placebo's NYC tour stop - I rallied my friend Angelo, and headed uptown to the epic Roseland Ballroom. Not really knowing what to expect (as this was the first time I've been able to snag a ticket to see the band) I have to admit I was excited to hear that voice. For me, when lead singer Brian Molko opens his mouth, it's like the souls of T. Rex, Bowie, Iggy Pop and Gary Numan were tossed into a blender, frapped, and spoon-fed to the young Molko (by Brian Eno, no less!) back in the late '70s.
But I digress... in a rather dark way. Let's get to the concert. From the moment that the band hit the stage, it was clear that Roseland was filled with SERIOUS Placebo fans that were looking to hear all of their favorite songs in a single evening. As the band opened with the menacing, guitar-laden track "Infra-Red," it became obvious that the band is slowly evolving their emo-glam sound into a full-on rock direction. That's not a bad thing - during the course of the evening, the band easily rallied the crowd with energetic tracks like "The Bitter End" and "Meds" while soothing the masses with the epic "Without You I'm Nothing," and their beautiful encore opener, "Running Up That Hill" (a cover of a Kate Bush classic, for all of you young'uns out there).
For me, it was heartening to witness that Placebo (a band that hit the scene in 1994) still was able to wrap the crowd around their little finger. With a venue filled with fans screaming every single word to every single song while dancing their hearts out, which has to be a serious rock star ego boost for a thirteen-year-old band that survived the Britpop era. But there was one moment at the beginning of the show that was a visual representation of the evolution of Placebo; a fan threw a pink feather boa onstage, hitting Brian in the leg during a guitar solo. Molko cracked a grin to the fan in the audience and scooped up the boa, briefly waving it in the air. But instead of wrapping it around his neck (as fans would have expected in the olden, glam-filled days), Brian tossed the boa behind the keyboards and continued his guitar solo with a renewed vigor. Not too shabby for a precocious thirteen-year-old.