Readers, I am an idiot. Every month or so a band pops up in Copenhagen and I think “Oh, I had no idea [whatever] were still around, it might be a laugh.” Nothing but insane optimism or a perverse desire to see the idols of my teenage years destroyed could explain this recurring lapse of judgement (not for nothing it has been observed that Greek tragedy operates in eternal cycles).
So here I am, Ithacan king returned from a warring decade, hoping to find comfort in the sounds of home, which in this case consist of the nasal musings of a Belgian midget. Like any tragic hero, I witness all the signs of impending doom, but choose to ignore them: Placebo have released a new album (bad sign, this means new material), Falconer salen is looking as edgy as a British Airways airport lounge, and all around me are 30-somethings who quite clearly have not being to a concert in fifteen years.
As we listen to London psychedelic openers, Toy, the augury of a fellow music journalist: “they have a new song about how much they hate social media.” I let this shocker skip lightly over my head the way Toy’s music is contemporaneously doing.
I am saying all this not simply because I am a bored and self-indulgent pseudo-journo, but to illustrate how much the odds were stacked against me enjoying a minute of a Placebo concert in 2013. But as is so often the case, the numbers are against me. Although Falconer is not exactly packed, three quarters of the room yell and woop with appreciation at the new material, and double this for the old hits. A glimmer of recognition hits me, when after 30 seconds I realise the band is playing “Every Me and Every You”. I expected to think back to that flatulent film version of Les Liaisons dangereuses, Cruel Intentions. Fortunately, this isn’t the case, but the reason for it is the utterly bland veneer that the band have pasted over everything. Brian Molko’s vocals are distinctive as every, but the guitars sound processed (as in, processed meat, pink slime, etc) to the point where all they can really contribute is a general white noise surrounding the bass and drums.
Consider also that in the first hour the band have said nothing between songs except for a token “Hello, we are Placebo.” Thanks, we’d noticed. The effect has evidently gripped most of the audience, but frankly I’d take the real thing over a placebo any day. I have faced the tragic climax, conscious that this will not serve as any kind of lesson for the future.