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20 Years of Placebo: Melbourne scored a greatest-hits set to remember

Sometimes nostalgia can be lame, self-reflective and lazy. Other times it’s beautiful, reminding people of who they used to be. 

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Image source: 
Matt Holliday

Melbourne’s stadium precinct was abuzz with loads of punters hoping Alex Rance would hold down Richmond's backline and others hoping Brian Molko would supply us with Special K.
 
A fast-paced retrospective video kicked off proceedings. From the second the stage tech pressed play, the night was about nostalgia – after all, it was Placebo’s 20th birthday party. Stefan Osldal’s lanky silhouette played the opening riff to Pure Morning before being joined onstage by Brian Molko. The two have performed as a duo for the last few years alongside some note-perfect hired guns. Brian may have let the audience know that he’d been suffering tonsillitis (thanking Aussie doctors for helping him out), but if he’s said nothing we’d never have known. He played hard, and sang hard for almost two hours, giving the audience exactly what they wanted – a greatest-hit set from one of the landmark alternative rock acts.
 
Sometimes nostalgia can be lame, self-reflective and lazy. Other times it’s beautiful, reminding people of who they used to be. For me, this time capsule made me feel more optimistic; more interested and easily influenced. It reminded me of the first time I listened to Pure Morning’s lyrics and learnt about Special K. With Placebo, nothing was taboo and that’s pretty important to learn as a young lad growing up in Melbourne’s ‘burbs. They’re a band that told its audience, ‘It’s OK. In fact, it’s not only OK – it’s fucking awesome.’
 
Margaret Court had her arena filled with equality-loving, open mindedness that would’ve seen her throw a few shitty backhands. Olsdal held his rainbow flag guitar aloft as he got the crowd going with a ‘fuck you Margaret Court’. It’s pretty good timing that Placebo played this soulless venue as we lead up to the plebiscite.
 
If you like Placebo’s music, you liked the show. Their songs did the talking with minimal stage banter, songs like: Pure Morning, Loud Like Love, Soulmates, Special needs, Protect Me From What I Want, Without You I’m Nothing, For What It’s Worth, Slave To The Wage, Special K, The Bitter End and Nancy Boy.
 
I’m sometimes criticised for being a bit nostalgic in my tastes but in this case, I’m definitely correct. Placebo rocked.  
 
Highlight: Nancy Boy
Lowlight: Margaret Court Arena’s ‘ambience’
Crowd favourite: Special K