Placebo @ Metro City, Perth (02/03/10)

SharpShooter’s Gallery

The Vasco Era won the support slot for Placebo’s sidewave tour, which was a bit surprising, but also exciting, since these boys have some serious talent between them. Beginning with a Beatles cover, Why don’t we do it in the road? it was immediately clear that bassist, Ted O’Neil has gone from strength to strength; seemingly between one tour and the next, his stage presence has increased tenfold. His bass-lines are fat and interesting and seem to take more of an equal role in the band’s sound. On drums, Michael Fitzgerald was an animal, sweaty and like a maniac; mesmerising to watch.

Disappointingly, the same can’t really be said for guitarist and front-man Sid O’Neil It is possible that he has drunk himself retarded. Ragged on stage, in a dirty t-shirt and bare feet, he commenced swiping at his guitar with unprotected fingers and looked and sounded like every strum was excruciatingly painful for him. Sounded that way, because of the frequent cracking of his voice; an effect that once made every song sound passionate and heartfelt. On this occasion however, coupled with slurred vocals, an unfocused stare and imprecise guitar-work, it appeared as though The Vasco Era was a band put together by some talented musicians to keep someone’s special brother from licking the windows. Sid’s raw talent is still there, but it hasn’t been built upon at all, and may end up disappearing one drink at a time.

…Or maybe it was just the last night of a long tour. Let’s give them the benefit of the doubt.

On the other hand, Placebo were everything a fan could ask them to be, last night of a tour or not. They even impressed some lukewarm fans who only really like ‘that song in Cruel Intentions (which they played) and the one about weed’(which they didn’t). They hit the stage on time, played just about all the songs from Battle for the Sun and a few favourites from Meds and earlier releases. Trigger Happy got a good crowd response, in fact everything got a good response.

It’s likely that there would have been more singing along, had the songs been arranged the way they are recorded, but then again, maybe they don’t like the way it sounds when a whole crowd sings along in imitation of Brian Molko’s distinctive voice. The changed vocals still sounded good, and had the effect of making the audience pay closer attention.

There was plenty of audience participation throughout, with Molko and Stefan Olsdal switching sides and walking out to the edges of the stage to visit with the crowd often. (and to point out anyone filming the show to the bouncers – seriously, even at their most sweaty and haggard, the entire band is beautiful, no need to be so weird.) Olsdal in particular was statuesque in silver jeans with a guitar that had matching silver sparkles. (Oh bring back glam rock gear for boys!) Every time he moved to the front of the stage hands went up and cheering swelled around the man, sometimes drowning out the vocals.

With them on stage, they also had their three touring musicians most of whom were fairly subdued, except for Nick Gavrilovic, in eyeliner who was rocking out so hard he just about upstaged the band. But it was cute.

The new drummer Steve Forrest has clearly influenced their recent sonic direction with the new tracks being heavier and possessed of more intricate and noticeable drumming when compared with earlier releases. The Bitter End and Infra Red got incredible roars from both “top shelf” and “bottom shelf” (The upstairs and the floor levels) but the biggest roar was for Special K. Even if Molko changed the way he sang it, the crowd was going to sing along anyway. Sing? Scream is more like it.

Entirely satisfying, Utterly entertaining, and so full of energy even at the bitter end of the Soundwave tour. Thanks Placebo.

SharpShooter’s Gallery