REVIEW: Placebo – Waterfront Hall, Belfast

There is little more exciting than the announcement of a new show for one of the bands who has really broke boundaries within their genre and indeed within music. Last year, Placebo announced that they would be visiting Belfast and it’s fair to say there were a few thousand quite ecstatic.

The cold night kept a few punters away until late but Dundee outfit The Mirror Trap were not dismayed. With six members on stage, their brand of rock went down well and frontman Gary Moore kept interest alive by interacting well with crowd and stage, losing his feet several times and battling with his microphone stand to his own amusement. ‘Piranhas‘ was a particular highlight of the set, setting the right tone with cutting vocals and piercing guitar whilst ‘Silent Men‘ showed their adaptability to craft a delicate, yet story-like, piece of work.

Placebo7

It’s hard to believe that Placebo were celebrating their 20th Anniversary but  the facts don’t lie. It’s more than twenty years since front man Brian Molko and guitarist Stefan Olsdal came together to create their first incarnation as Ashtray Heart before setting into their debut album as Placebo two years later in 1996. In Belfast however, as the room went black, the waiting audience were greeted with a remix of ‘Pure Morning’ before the Londoners arrived on stage to mass appeal.

‘B3’ and ‘For What It’s Worth’ broke the silence in the Waterfront before title track ‘Loud Like Love’ demonstrated the band’s ability to create a lasting impression, impressive lighting and video back drop in tow. Placebo sounded immense, there’s no two ways about it. They were faultless. Stunning renditions of new songs ‘Scene of the Crime’, ‘A Million Little Pieces’ and ‘Rob the Bank’ only cemented that opinion. However with six members in total, at times two more guitarists and even a violinist, you’d be concerned if there was a mistake within this well-oiled machine. The production was sublime.

The band performed a great selection of their catalogue including ‘Purify’, ‘Space Monkey’ and ‘Meds’, which received the best response of the night to date. Molko commanded the audience and seemed at times to waken up his band members by walking around and thrusting his guitar into the air to evoke a reaction. Placebo13By this time however – over an hour into the performance – it was evident that those in attendance, eager to hear another classic bellowed out of the PA system in the Waterfront, were disappointed and even a few growing restless as ‘Song to Say Goodbye’ was next up.

But Placebo have been here and done this many times.  It didn’t take long for them to rectify the situation with ‘Special K’ rearing it’s head before epic ‘The Bitter End’ sent most of the crowd into that frenzy many were expecting at the start of the night. It was to this, the band exited the stage with smiles plastered on the faces of the Belfast crowd.

Placebo15With the fans in their hands, right where they wanted them (and in fairness right where the crowd wanted to be), it was disappointing that Placebo did not take advantage. ‘Begin the End’ and Kate Bush’s ‘Running Up that Hill’ did little to convince or take advantage of the waiting audience. To finish, a constant impressive Molko and Olsdal thanked the audience before finishing on ‘Infra-red’. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed. While the band may have reasons for skipping ‘Pure Morning’, ‘English Summer Rain’ and ‘Nancy Boy’, tonight was crying out for these songs to keep Northern Ireland on their feet. Instead the majority, the heavy-footed restless hopefuls, turned into “happy, but disappointed they didn’t play x and y” persons leaving the wonderful Waterfront Hall. Mark Dunn, GiggingNI.com

 Click here for all photos.