Always out of step with current trends, Placebo attracted a mixed crowd to the first of two major Brixton shows last night. There were plenty of newer fans, too young to remember the London-based trio’s emergence as American-sounding misfits while Britpop’s flag flew.
Still characterised by Brian Molko’s thin, cold voice and bleak outlook, they have moved forward in parts. The new album, Loud Like Love, has an unexpected colourful sleeve and a chiming, euphoric title track that’s a joy. On stage they are now an intimidatingly loud sextet, souping up older songs such as Every You Every Me and Special K with fast, distorted guitars while hyperactive graphics on multiple screens blazed.
Molko is finding ever more modern ways to express his dissatisfaction with life. The piano-led Too Many Friends described a new way to feel lonely, somewhat labouring its point about the emptiness of internet-based relationships. It opened with a striking observation about targeted advertising: “My computer thinks I’m gay.”
A long set still omitted a few of their biggest singles, while a quiet Molko allowed the volume of his band to do the talking. Yet any band that can still fill Brixton Academy twice after seven albums is doing something right. The Placebo effect remains a powerful one.