Tag: Alex Weston
Placebo’s Brian Molko announced in an interview with the Chilean radio station Sonar FM that all the profits from their imminent show in Santiago, on April 8, will go to the relief funds for the victims of the recent earthquake. It is a very good idea, because it avoids the chaos of a free show, but still, it will be the Chilean people who will benefit from the gig, both money-wise and show-wise. “All of the money that will be generated from the Placebo concert will be going back to the Chilean people. It’s the only right thing to do”, promised the frontman.
It is also a more personal way for Placebo to say thank you to a public that has always supported them, Chile being one of the countries that considerably enhanced their popularity in South America. The gig also marks the beginning of their South American tour for promoting last year’s Battle for the Sun, which will have them visit Brazil, Argentina, Colombia and Peru.
Being the sweetest lady ever, Fiona Brice, Placebo’s strings arranger for their last two albums and side member for their Battle for the Sun tour, was nice enough to give us an interview regarding her journey with les enfants terribles of alternative rock. A special thank you goes out to her for doing this.
Niki Phaser: Battle for the Sun is the second Placebo album, that you’ve worked on, after Meds. How did you first meet the band and got to collaborate with them?
Fiona Brice: I have known the band socially for many years because we have several friends in common in London, and we used to meet at gigs before Placebo became hugely successful and their tours took them away for long periods. Brian remembers seeing me playing violin with Michael J Sheehy about 10 years ago at the 12-bar club in London. At the time I was playing and writing with various bands, including Dream City Film Club. Coincidentally I was also in the band Tram for a while, and Bill Lloyd was in this band before me! Small world… But our musical paths didn’t officially merge until the band decided to use strings on the Meds album. They asked me to write with them, and we found musical material and a sound that could add something to the songs without overpowering them. It worked well and after this I collaborated with Stefan on the strings for the Hotel Persona album.
For an EU capital, Bucharest is not the most tourist-oriented of cities. Finding Romexpo was quite an adventure and then finding the venue within Romexpo was quite a mini-adventure. The biggest procentege of the crowd waiting at the gates was pretty much what you would call standard Placebo fans: girls ranging from 14 to 18, wearing black and goth make-up, but looking very happy and excited. Of course, by the time access was allowed, a more “square”-looking audience started to show up. There was a bit of a delay, a bit of waiting in the sun, but there always is. While Expatriate’s crew were making final preparations, a DJ entertained the in-coming people with some well-suited indie classics.
Placebo took the stage as the sun was setting and, no hello’s, no how are you’s, kicked off with perfect opener Kitty Litter. Setlist-wise, it was a standard non-festival Placebo date, circa summer of 2009. Still, for such a madding crowd, it could have just as well been an acoustic cover session of Barbra Streisand’s hits, the fans were that pleased to see their idols. Ashtray Heart was next and only after that, Molko greeted the public and announced that they will be playing a few songs from their new album. Battle for the Sun, despite its many lyrics, was well-known by the audience. All tracks were, new or old. At the end of the title track, before Molko moaned acapella “I will battle for the sun”, he took a break and demanded more and more noise from the audience. Some decibels records in human shouting must have been broken that night, because the sound was deafening, almost in a scary way. Molko’s big smile to his guitar-master, when changing instruments for the next song, prooved that the facts immediately sank in: Placebo is owning this crowd. Bands always talk about the exchange of energy in concerts. Sunday night, in Bucharest, this phenomenon was as visible as it can be. All rock’n'roll moves and postures were checked by the frontman, with his Fenders finding themselves between his legs on several occasions. Drummer Steve Forrest “broke” concert rules and catapulted his sticks into the sea of raised hands, after finishing certain songs, not just at the end of the show.
There were also some funny moments. Stefan Olsdal had some difficulties with the beginning of Speak in Tongues, fixed after changing “weapons”. Molko ironically commented: “Sometimes, guitars play all the wrong notes”. When presenting the band, he named Olsdal “the queen of Sweden” and Olsdal responded by calling Molko his “drama queen”. Towards the end of Black Eyed, the frontman signaled the need of cancer-stick to one of his tech-guys. Of course, a rain of cigarette packs, coming from the public, landed on stage (accompanied at one point by a bra, that is now probably a part of Placebo’s Tour Treasure… Chest). He lighted before Happy You’re Gone saying: “It’s fantastic to be in a country where you can smoke on stage. Where we come from, in the UK, they’re slowly taking away every piece of freedom we have left. So, it’s great to be amongst you filling our lungs together”. This might NOT make a good anti-smoking add. After Song to Say Goodbye, Placebo said good night, but it was obvious that this is not the end. The first encore was Infra-Red and Sleeping with Ghost‘s hit, The Bitter End. They closed the night with the classic Taste in Men, sounding more massive than ever. The band left the stage in an impressive roar of admiration from the mesmerized crowd. Steve Forrest left with his own little piece of “treasure”: a pair of pants, thrown on stage by some really desperate-to-be-remembered fan.
The night wasn’t over quite yet. A group of fans situated in the left side of the stage spotted Placebo’s backstage lodgings and cheered them out of there for an impromptu autograph session. This clearly wasn’t any promo duty for them, just a way of saying “thank you” in a more upfront personal way. Brian Molko was smiling all throughout the signing, but Steve Forrest seemed to be really having the time of his life. He was hugged and kissed and patted on the back and made pictures with anyone asking. He even graduated magna cum laude from the rock’n'roll stardom baptism of giving an autograph on a lady’s chest. Live ”sidekicks” Fiona Brice, Nick Gavrilovich and veteran Billy Lloyd joined the fun, as well as the members of Expatriate. Placebo’s longtime manager, Alex Weston, was also there overseeing the interactions and making sure everybody got their autograph. It was the perfect ending of a perfect night. After such a mind-blowing response, there is no doubt that Placebo will return to Romania. If not in the following two years, they will surely make a stop when promoting their now-unborn future album.