Placebo at Portsmouth Guildhall 18.11.2022 with Cruel Hearts Club supporting.
Portsmouth Guildhall is an impressive building but it’s rare for me to catch it in daylight, with my handful of visits being in the evening.
Some more notes on the venue can be found in my blog of my last visit here to see Starsailor.
Tonight’s gig saw us visiting the Brewhouse and Kitchen brewpub beforehand, just a few hundred yards off the Guildhall Square and along passed the closer Wetherspoons option. The bars in the venue are fine if heading straight in.
My first encounter with Placebo was way back in August 1997 at the V97 Festival near Leeds, during their early days – the Nancy Boy years. I’ve been buying their albums ever since, continuing even after the music streaming options appeared. Their latest album, the one being toured, Never Let Me Go, lived up to the wait. Favourite tracks for me I guess are the single Beautiful James and Surrounded by Spies.
It wasn’t until 2009 that I went to one of Placebo’s own gigs though: Bournemouth Opera House, now the O2 Academy. This was quite small intense gig – I had to join the fan club to get a ticket – fuelled my enthusiasm for some more adventurous trips to see them. In November 2013, we travelled (with now wife Sally) from Brussels (where we were on holiday) to Cologne to see them at the Lanxess Arena. Then in December 2016 we went to the 3 Arena in Dublin to see them. Both great trips.
Placebo at Portsmouth Guildhall
We are in the balcony for the show tonight. Top view down over the stage. Cruel Hearts Club are the support. A rocky, a bit punky, female trio. Bright and visual.
The no photos posters were all over the place and warnings are made over the speakers and also with messaging on stage. Similar had been appearing on social media and in emails to ticket holders in the days before the gig. I’m happy to go along with these things.
Comments made by main man Brian Molko at the end if the gig made it clearer that he really was a bit nervous of this sort of close-up gig these days and this may tie in to the phone and camera thing. I don’t buy it that phones and cameras are necessarily a bad gig thing though. They fuel interest and enthusiasm for bands via YouTube and other social media, particularly if you can’t get a ticket or get to a gig. It does drop the nut a bit on my blog material mind but hey ho.
The set tonight was heavily focused on the new album and brilliantly delivered – top sound – loud and sharp. Molko’s voice so consistent and the defining sound.
Brian Molko (guitar and vocals) and Stefan Olsdal (bass and vocals) are the original Placebo members, going back to 1994, with the rest of the band being touring members….even extending to a second bassist allowing Stefan to switch to guitar. Stefan and Brian started the band after meeting at an American school in Luxembourg, which may explain the Brian’s American sounding vocals.
The brilliant Too Many Friends is a highlight inclusion outside of the new album – one of their best ever songs. Infa-Red another perfect addition for me. I used to blast this song out again and again driving to work when it was released in 2006.
The set is a wonderful showcase for the new album but the encores could have been an opportunity to hear some more old faves maybe. Instead, the covers of Kate Bush’s Running Up That Hill and the new cover of Tears for Fears’ Shout and one more, Fix Yourself, from the new album, Never Let Me Go. Still a top performance – up with the best I have experienced this year, but I left just wanting more from the encores to make it a 10/10.
A snap of the empty stage as I left, gives the balcony view.