Not many bands get to the grand old age of twenty and still manage to sell out shows all around the world, so with Placebo being in the middle of that exact kind of tour, tonight should be considered a celebration.
In those two decades, the band have been at the forefront of musical provocation and, because of that, Placebo draw a particular kind of crowd; one that’s going to be very hard to play for as a support band. They know what they like and they’re not afraid to let you know if you’re not up to scratch.
Unfortunately, for Husky Loops , they found that out tonight. It’s not unjustified though. The London based trio walk onstage to a drum loop over the top of spoken words that attempts to be thought-provoking, but, in reality, it’s just cringe-worthy. They play their way through a catalogue of disjointed songs that really don’t flow at all to an almost stagnant and uninterested audience. There’s literally nothing about this band that’s remotely interesting or likeable, just pretentious rubbish.
The best way to describe Husky Loops is if a less likeable Alex Turner was the frontman of a less interesting Royal Blood, and that’s putting it kindly. You have to applaud the trio for trying to be original, but they’re just trying to be original for the sake of it. If the band’s main goal was to alienate the audience, then they’ve succeeded.
Thankfully, the same can’t be said for headliners, Placebo . The band open with a video montage of old tour footage from twenty years together with one of the band’s biggest hits ‘Every You, Every Me’ being played over the speakers. One thing to note is that, even though the audience are going wild, this means that the band won’t be playing it live, and that’s a big disappointment. It’s short lived though, as they walk on to play flagship anthem, ‘Pure Morning’, which sounds absolutely monstrous in an arena. Brian Molko‘s guitar sounds huge, the drums are booming, and Stefan Olsdal‘s bass is so prominent that it’s vibrating through my chest.
As the band reel off hit after hit along with plenty of fan favourites, Molko takes time to let the audience know that he’s ill and lost his voice in Reading a few nights ago. He apologises that he doesn’t sound like his usual self, makes a nice speech about how he didn’t want to cancel tonight, and then continues to reel off an expansive career spanning set.
Visually, tonight’s backdrop is a wall of LED lights that projected flashing imagery, red and blue backdrops, and even a dig at Donald Trump with his face on a cigarette pack. Prior to the start of their UK tour, Molko did an emotional interview with the Metro around his close late friend, David Bowie, and how he helped the band in their early years (it’s an interesting read if you do get a chance). Tonight, the band echo that sentiment when during ‘Without You, I’m Nothing’ there was a poignant video tribute to the man himself, which surely resonates throughout the crowd.
‘Nancy Boy’ opens up their encore to the biggest crowd reaction of the night. Unfortunately, it’s the only period of the night in which the extent of Molko‘s voice loss becomes apparent. The band’s biggest hit sounds vocally flat, and the high notes are just not being hit. It’s unfortunate, as is the absence of their Kate Bush cover, ‘Running Up That Hill’; something that would have ascended Placebo to a pedestal as the curtains closed to end the night perfectly.
Tonight, and indeed the tour, is without a doubt a triumph and showcases just how influential the duo have been for music all around the world in the last twenty years. Here’s hoping that the guys have got another good few years left in them because, quite clearly, Placebo are far from done yet.
Written by Jacob Eynon (@itsjustjake93)