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Concert Review -April 15,1999

"Placebo - Brits sooth San Francisco"
By Randy Cohen  

{short description of image}Many in the United States may not know who the hell Placebo is, but at home in London they are being hailed as "The Band To Watch Out For" by Melody Maker (whose past predictions included Oasis, Blur, Lush,). Placebo members Brian Molko, Stefan Olsdal (bass), drummer Steve Hewitt . Placebo seemingly burst out of nowhere in 1996, when their brilliant debut "Placebo" and became all the rage in Britain. A blood-curdling mix of pent-up emotion, gender-bending turmoil, and tumultuous guitar licks, Placebo proved something we see time and time again, lead singer Brian Molko said from a previous interview. "If there is one place to vent life's frustrations and disappointments, a record is the place to do it". But there is no rest for the wicked and Placebo is wicked with astound tinged in early Sonic Youth, '80's Glam rock, a wall of blearyguitars, enough melody emotional storytelling.

In concert at the Maritime Hall in San Francisco Placebo soon drifted into "My Sweet Prince," an icy torch {short description of image}song that had Molko singing like a passionate blend of Marianne Faithful and Perry Farrell. He stood on stage in makeup with a white long sleeve top and Grey skirt. This sort of gender-blending is hardly a new idea in rock, and Placebo's would hardly matter at all if not for the music. The band's rockers carried an intense urgency not quite captured on the new "'Without You I'm Nothing" album, and found bright melodies amid otherwise grim rhythms. Placebo played passionate songs like "You Don't care about us " built on an upbeat riff right out of '80s Goth pop, and "36 Degrees". Not all of the band's material was up to this intense standard, "Pure Morning" was the nights favorite, but the musical peaks were undeniable and furious, until the moment the band stepped off the stage to a storm of violent feedback. A torrid emotionalism lies just beneath the surface of Placebo's Glam-Goth cool. At the Maritime Hall the British trio performed a show that was heavy on strobe lights and mascara, but equally rich is thier songs context of relationships and heartbreak. Brian Molko sang of desperate romance with a wounded sneer, pausing during a cigarette break to utter, without a hint of irony: "The greatest thing I've ever learned is to be loved and to love in return."

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