Manchester Victoria Warehouse //Tuesday 22nd November 2022

Communion and transcendence in a Manchester Warehouse- a Moshmag review by Stanley D Kippax // Photography by David Dillon (Full Gallery Below)

Every now and again you attend a gig and the venue is absolutely perfect for the act. Like seeing a reggae act on a beach in Jamaica, a rap battle in New York , or when Ed Shearan plays Wembley, and you find yourself in Manchester watching someone decent. That kind of thing, you know? Well, I’m now adding Placebo in dark, atmospheric warehouse to the list.

En route to the venue our photographer mentioned the band had tweeted about camera phones, requesting fans just enjoy the gig rather than photograph it. I assumed he was just scared of the competition but it turns out there was more to it than that.

 “Dear Placebo fans, we would like to kindly ask you NOT to spend the concert filming or taking photos with your mobile phones.

It makes Placebo’s performance so much more difficult. More difficult to connect with you and to communicate effectively the emotions of the songs. It is also disrespectful to your fellow concert-goers who want to watch the show, not the back of your phone.

Please be here and now in the present and enjoy the moment. Because this exact moment will never ever happen again. Our purpose is to create communion and transcendence. Please help us on our mission. With respect and love.”

…the note at the box office read…and then again on the screens…and before the band appeared. By and large it’s a fair point and they made it firmly and clearly. Phones at gigs are annoying and if you’ve spent money to see an act why do you want to watch it through a tiny screen filming a video no one will ever watch. Plus I feel for the band, I know only too well how difficult it is to create communion and transcendence.

It’s fair to say it did feel a little pretentious to this no-nonsense Northerner (Ed – he’s not “no nonsense”!), not that there’s anything wrong with a little pretension every now again. I was just making that point the other day to the patrons down the Speciality Coffee and Craft Ale House . But to their credit Placebo won me round to their way of thinking.

Now I’d love to tell you that at Victoria Warehouse they built ships for the nearby ship canal, or welded steel to more steel or whatever. You know, fire and sparks and whatnot? But to ruin a famous quote this is Manchester, we stored cotton for the textile industry here. Not that I’m going to let that stop me weaving in my laboured metaphor

Placebo are distinctive. You don’t hear a Placebo song and wonder who it’s by. There’s a thundering weight to the noise they make, contrasting sharply Brian Molko’s urgent vocals. Heavy churning and high pitched ferocity it’s almost (you’ll like this) industrial (told you!).

The band roared into life, with the kick drum, and heavy bass-lines reverberating through the venues bare brick walls, and embedded huge steel columns, Malko’s voice and howling guitar being the perfect foil to bring a perfect balance to such a dominant live sound.

Showcasing their new album – Never Let Me Go – the opening two songs mirrored the opening tracks of their March 2022 release – Forever Chemicals and Beautiful James, both of which already feel timeless and as if they have been on Plecebo’s set-list for years! We then stepped back to 2013, with Scene of The Crime, before being thrust back into the present with Hugz and Happy Birthday.

The band then settled into a more familiar rhythm, with an eclectic mix of songs from earlier records intertwined with the new. With each song, and the crowd duly obliging with the no-phones request, this felt like a performance that many had been waiting a long time for. Despite big hitting singles like Nancy Boy, Pure Morning, and Every Me Every You being notably absent, and the new songs reminiscent of the Placebo that we all know and love so well, they were barely missed, such is the quality and consistency of Malko and Olsdal song-writing. After almost 25 years, the band haven’t lost grip of the core fundamentals that made them the force they are, and given the reception of Never Let Me Go it’s clear that Placebo have no aspirations to go anywhere anytime soon!

It was dark, atmospheric and steamy, a serious music show not a set. There was little in the way of on stage chat but plenty of interaction between the band and the audience. Guitarist Stefan Olsdal orchestrating the crowd, gesticulating and swaying. Bands that have been around for some time know their audience and their audiences know the bands. There’s undoubtedly a connection there, nuisance mobile phones almost non-existent (there’s always one) and I suppose that in a way creates communion. Placebo had created a space entirely suited to them, their rules were simple and clear allowing us to enjoy their music as they saw fit.

As for transcendence? Fuck knows ‘r kid. Sounds a bit hippish to me innit?

Set List

  • Forever Chemicals
  • Beautiful James
  • Scene of The Crime
  • Hugz
  • Happy Birthday
  • Bionic
  • Twin Demons
  • Spies
  • Chemtrails
  • Sad White Reggae
  • Try Better Next Time
  • Too Many Friends
  • Went Missing
  • For What It’s Worth
  • Slave to the Wage
  • Song 2 Say
  • Bitter End
  • Infra Red
  • Shout (Encore)
  • Fix Yourself (Encore)
  • Running Up That Hill (Encore)

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