Placebo is the real thing

Dec. 28, 2003, midnight | By Erica Hartmann | 20 years, 2 months ago

It would be hard in this day and age to find music without a strong beat, heavy and rhythmic, regular or no. But it is becoming harder still to find music with a pulse, a band that lives and breathes, an original, unique creature.

Placebo, a rock band from the UK, brought just such a life-sustaining sound to the 9:30 Club Friday, Dec. 12. While their opening band Stellastarr* was loud and melodic but largely untalented, Placebo embodied strength and beauty, pumping both qualities into 9:30's intimate space.

Though associated with glam rock--David Bowie is featured in one track on their album Black Market Music--band members Brian Molko, Stephan Olsdal and Steve Hewett appeared mostly in basic black. Their androgynous appeal has also decreased as Molko's latest hairstyle is a short-cropped buzz. The lighting too was simplistic; mostly red, white and blue with splashes of white strobe effects.

Their set and encore consisted of a colorful mix of some classics, such as "Pure Mourning," and some of their more recent works. Thus their earlier, more energetic, twangy style blended with their later, mellower pieces, several of which go so far as to include piano. The variety covered in the mere hour and a half of music was impressive.

Placebo could have played much longer. The show actually felt quite short. Some interaction with the audience would have lengthened the performance and slowed the pace, but so much was put into their great on-stage chemistry, especially between Molko and Olsdal, that little remained for bantering with the fans.

Nevertheless, Placebo is always worth hearing. Their distinction is their sound, which has grown and evolved, unlike the monotony of lesser bands which could use an injection of creativity.

A show in New York City on December 16 concluded Placebo's US tour dates.

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