Live Review: Placebo, Deaf Havana

12 September 2017 | 12:53 pm | Carley Hall

"Molko's massive voice lets rip with 'Pure Morning', but the mix swallows it a bit during low-key moments."

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It'd be safe to say there's a more mature bunch rocking up to tonight's BCC show.

Not that there isn't the odd fresh face in the mix, but it's a strikingly obvious absence when most youngsters these days pick up the reins of music predecessors pretty quick. It means there's less reason to dodge iPhone-wielding clumps at gigs such as this.

That said there's a respectful assembly before Brit rock dudes Deaf Havana. The openers play heavy but melodic rock with some sweet arrhythmic jaunts and neat jams. Singer James Veck Gilodi has pipes built for a stadium and puts them to good use by dishing out favourites from the more than ten years of solid albums.

Twenty years ago Brian Molko, the rock poster boy for androgyny, stepped into the '90s spotlight and stood left of centre with painted nails and smoky eyes and a single called Nancy Boy - back when it seemed like the music scene was still very much a grunge 'dude's' world, with the bare chest of Eddie Vedder and the care-not slouch of Kurt Cobain. Apart from Marilyn Manson, who was out to shock any way his high intelligence could, Molko and Placebo were just playing some heavy distorted rock and doing it with a feminine bent.

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The gents and their players emerge from the darkness to the sounds of classic Every You Every Me and its film clip. Molko's massive voice lets rip with Pure Morning, but the mix swallows it a bit during low-key moments in Loud Like Love and Soulmates. Special Needs is a nice hark back to the distorted chaos they did so well, but the entire midsection of the set seems to sag a bit. It could be two things - Molko's lack of chit chat (it's a 20-year celebration, and apart from some sweet footage of him and David Bowie playing during Without You I'm Nothing, there isn't much frivolity) or the venue itself, which straight up brings the buzz kill with its enforced anti-phone policy and pit restrictions. Molko notices the energy drop too and revs the head boppers up for closer The Bitter End.

The highlight of the encore is the song that brought everyone here tonight - Nancy Boy, complete with guitarist Stefan Olsdal's rainbow guitar, which couldn't be more timely with the same-sex postal ballot rolling out this week. The most rewarding take-away from tonight is knowing that while some bands of their era have updated their sound to suit the times, Placebo have stuck by theirs, and it makes you feel like you're still onto something that no one else is all these years later.