A jubilant birthday bash for Placebo at Usher Hall

7 October

In 2004, Placebo released ‘Twenty Years’ as a single, and they are celebrating their 20th anniversary as a band in the best way they know how: by touring across Europe. Edinburgh was the opening of the 12-gig UK leg of their tour where they not only brought their birthday spirit, but performed one of the most energetic sets to date.

Before the band came on, they started by playing a previously unreleased music video for ‘Every You, Every Me’, setting an already buzzing audience alight with some of the loudest cheers I’ve heard at a Placebo gig before the band had even graced the stage which is hard to beat given the rowdy nature of the ‘Cebo fans at the best of times.

The first song is a crowd favourite which was neglected at live shows from 2007 until the start of the anniversary tour last year, ‘Pure Morning’. By this point the mesmerising team of Brian Molko and Stefan Olsdal have an audience of all ages hypnotised, singing and dancing uncontrollably at their sold-out birthday party.

Between songs, the Edinburgh crowd cheers so uncontrollably that Molko and Olsdal exchange smiles and Molko announces that it is “good to be home” and not in “snooty London” which is met with louder cheers. They continued playing what they describe as the “melancholic part of the concert” which includes classics such as ‘I Know’, ‘Space Monkey’, ‘Special Needs’, the crowd divider that is ‘Too Many Friends and, of course, their anniversary theme song, ‘Twenty Years‘. This section concludes with a touching tribute to David Bowie, with a video featuring moments with Bowie playing in the background during ‘Without You I’m Nothing‘ (another rare song before the anniversary tour).

Then came the second section with their racy, fast-paced numbers such as ‘Special K’, ‘For What it’s Worth’ and ‘Slave to The Wage’ which Molko commands the audience to dance during because it’s their “birthday party”, which they happily oblige.

Placebo, known for political statements, also have a dig at Donald Trump with an illustration of a cigarette box with the message “seriously harms you and others around you”, receiving more than a few cheers. When it comes to the first encore, the audience lose it when the first notes of ‘Nancy Boy’ are played, and by the second encore, Placebo’s signature rendition of Kate Bush’s ‘Running Up That Hill’ makes many fans emotional as it marks the end of a fantastic two hours of Placebo mania.

As a Placebo fan of a few years who was left disappointed by their neglect of songs from their early albums such as ‘Nancy Boy’ and ‘Pure Morning’, it is wonderful to see a tribute to all aspects of Placebo then and now, twenty years on from when Bowie first fell for them in 1996. It’s fair to say that Placebo’s birthday party was not only well attended by their adoring Soulmates, but one of the band’s strongest and most varied setlists to date. I think it’s safe to say, there may be another twenty years to go for Placebo.

IMAGE: Martin Mycielski, Wikimedia CC

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