One of the UK’s favourite alternative rock acts for nearly 30 years. A band that broke through as the antithesis to the 90s all-consuming britpop scene, a Placebo world tour should elate and emote in all manner of ways. Sadly however, it seems as though the duo are more concerned with entertaining themselves than their long standing fanbase.
With an impressive stage presence there’s seemingly little need for audience interaction. Let the hits speak for themselves. And with eight studio albums under their belts, Placebo have more than enough bangers to fill an hour and a half. Or at least, so you would think.
Nancy Boy, Pure Morning, Every Me Every You, Without You I’m Nothing, Meds, Taste in Men, Special K, Haemoglobin… all absent. This is a Placebo World Tour concerned almost solely with 2022’s Never Let Me Go. Of the 18 tracks the band played (excluding the encore) more than 70% was material from the newest album. If you’re a fan this might not be such a big deal. However it’s clear that the audience at Brixton O2 Academy was less than convinced.
It took the reeling out of classics such as Slave to the Wage and The Bitter End to resuscitate the dance floor after an early Beautiful James gave way to more than 30 mins of less popular tracks. It’s noteworthy that both of these songs come from 2000’s Black Market Music. Far from their best selling album, but one which obviously has just as strong a connection with the fans as the entirely absent Without You I’m Nothing and self-titled debut Placebo.
It’s also worth noting that this isn’t a show in isolation. As part of the Placebo World Tour, this setlist is a regular showcase. Even when playing a mid-afternoon set at 2022’s Mad Cool, Madrid, the band offered a slimmed-down edition. There, also, it fell somewhat flat.
It would be hard to suggest that Placebo have lost their touch. While Never Let Me Go is far from the band’s best, it does yet deliver a calibre that many lesser bands strive for. But when played live, it lacks the punch of near-every other album in Placebo’s back catalogue. Here’s hoping for a Black Market Music 30th anniversary tour in 2030. Until then, Placebo sit as a band best listened to at home.