Music review: Placebo, Academy, Glasgow

Almost 30 years since they first gatecrashed the charts, Placebo still delight in doing things differently, writes Graham Falk

Placebo, Academy, Glasgow, ****

There are few bands like Placebo and even fewer frontmen like Brian Molko. Their triumphant return to Glasgow on Saturday was proof they can still hold an audience in the palm of their hands.

Molko, now with long flowing hair and a pristine moustache, has always been as interesting to watch as he was to listen to – a captivating musician and something the charts very much needed in the mid-’90s. Things have changed a bit since then, but Placebo's ability to connect to an audience has not changed a jot.

Brian Molko PIC: Paul WindsorBrian Molko PIC: Paul Windsor
Brian Molko PIC: Paul Windsor
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Alternative? Obviously. Rock? Probably. Important? Definitely. Molko and the towering figure of bassist Stefan Olsdal had the crowd onside before they even hit the stage when a recorded message from the band requested them to put their phones away and instead connect with the performance. The crowd cheered – and would oblige.

Opening on Forever Chemicals from latest album Never Let Me Go, Placebo sounded as fresh and exciting as ever. Between songs, Molko would declare himself as "50 per cent Scottish" and throw impassioned support behind the Scottish independence movement and the trans community.

Surrounded by Spies was particularly triumphant, the audience bellowing back every word as if the 2022 song was decades old. Scene Of The Crime, Meds and The Bitter End were particular standouts.

Nancy Boy was whipped out for the first time since 2017 recently at the Download festival, but the trick wasn't to be repeated tonight. Pure Morning and Every You Every Me were also left out of the set – it didn't matter though. The commercially successful hits weren't required with their back catalogue and new album tracks sounding this huge.

It wouldn't be many bands’ style to include two covers in their encore either (Tears For Fears’ Shout and Kate Bush's Running Up That Hill) but Placebo have always been different – prided themselves on it, almost – and based on this showing they are still very much making a difference almost 30 years since they first gatecrashed the charts.

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