Mature Placebo amp up the night

Mature Placebo amp up the night
Placebo lead singer Brian Molko (centre) performing at The Coliseum, Hard Rock Hotel on 27 August 2013.

British alternative rockers Placebo have improved with age.

Compared with their 1999 show at Zouk, they gave a tighter, fuller-bodied set that turned up the amp on Tuesday night at The Coliseum.

Lead singer and frontman Brian Molko bore the grace of a much older sage - he toned down on his iconic eyeshadow and eyeliner - while retaining a youthful vim in his performance.

The lean-built singer, dressed in a fitted black shirt and pants, was not much of a talker; one could tell that his focus was on the music.

His signature vocals - trembly and nasal - shone on songs such as Bionic, Meds and the memorable Kate Bush cover, Running Up That Hill.

He and bandmates, guitarist-bassist Stefan Olsdal and drummer Steve Forrest, were buttressed by two touring guitarists and a keyboardist/violinist. Together, they delivered fizzing anthems that kept the 1,500-strong audience in spring-heeled exuberance.

Forrest pounded away at the drums like a heavily tattooed behemoth for every song. Think of him as the alternative rock version of Travis Barker, drummer of pop-punk band Blink-182.

Fresh fervour lifted old songs, while newer songs played in the same vein made it easy for fans to get into a groove.

A mash-up of their single Pure Morning (1999) with Icelandic post-rock band Sigur Ros' hit number Svefn-g-englar introduced the band onto the stage. They then launched into a slew of their newer numbers such as B3 (2012), Too Many Friends (2013) and Loud Like Love (2013).

They may not have been familiar to the sea of fans, and perhaps it was a risky choice to kick off their set with these songs.

But by the time the band got into the fifth song for the night, they had whipped the heaving masses into a rocking frenzy, waving giant yellow foam fingers that were given out to concertgoers earlier in the evening.

In their 11/2-hour set, they played close to 20 songs, all perfectly segued, including a lengthy four-song encore and a heavier, guitar-charged version of Every You Every Me, the angsty teen anthem made famous by the American drama film Cruel Intentions (1999).

Alas, the omission of vintage favourites such as Nancy Boy, Bruise Pristine and Pure Morning made this reviewer wishing it was 1999 again.

melk@sph.com.sg


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