Anniversary - 04.04.2010


Drum roll.....fanfare...Tuesday marks one year of the Placebo tour! We kicked off with a TV performance in Paris for the French music prog "Taratata" on 6th April last year - the first time Placebo performed in the current line-up with Nick Gavrilovic & myself. Here's an energetic, fresh-faced performance of "Battle for the Sun" with a particularly sexy verse vocal from Mr Molko. I first heard this song in summer 2008 when I popped into the boys' pre-album rehearsals in London to say hi. I knew it was a massive song immediately, although I didn't know I would be adding to it with an epic string arrangement later that year.

Now, playing live on TV can be a unpleasant experience as the TV studio is a totally artificial environment for music. The whole set-up is designed to 'look' great, so the sound is often of secondary concern to everyone except the musicians, which is probably why so many people mime and why live performances on TV often sound underwhelming or just plain shit. But I think this show had the balance right.

Of course it just doesn't compare with the excitement of performing a full set in front of a live crowd. That is the proper journey. Some nights it is euphoric from start to finish, you become a fearless goddess and you can do no wrong. Very occasionally you are struck with pointless anxiety over nothing and cannot understand why everyone is staring at you.. the setlist sprawls out endlessly, seemingly multiplying itself in front of your eyes, and you just hang on and hope to get offstage without fainting or soiling yourself. But the majority of the time it is a fantastic, energetic experience where you do not think about yourself but become immersed in the 'now' of it all. Which is where we all want to be all of the time, right?

Anyway that's where I hope to be for the forthcoming gigs in South America, starting in Santiago this week. I have never visited this part of the world before and have no idea what to expect except more unexpectedly exciting and new experiences. And I have heard that the fans are crazy so ..bring it on, people!!! 

This trip comes fast on the back of the Australia/Asia tour we have just completed and my body is still reeling from the thousands of airmiles it has just hurtled through. The Australian Soundwave festival gigs were great despite performing in direct sunlight in the mid-afternoon 40 degree C sun in Adelaide and even more intense heat onstage in Perth. What are you like, Oz crowd?? How can you bear the temperature and still rock out? I saw some amazing sunburn out there. I was pretty much delirious with sweat. Here's the view from my keyboard when I walked onstage at Adelaide:


But you just can't see how fucking HOT it was. Always a source of truth and sound advice, Joey Castillo (Eagles of Death Metal) suggested I try a fat line of speed before going on to ensure that the gig 'flew' but I had to break it to him that amphetamines and violin playing are not natural friends... sweating and shaking over the fingerboard with a vibrato that sounds like a heart attack.. no good. I stuck with the Gatorade..

I have to say of course that it was an honour to be sharing the airmiles with Janes Addiction and their show was ball-breakingly fantastic. Perry is a legend. Thanks & much love to them.

So many good experiences..our Melbourne & Sydney (Enmore Theatre) shows were wild and I have never felt so at home on the other side of the earth. Our Japanese shows were also fantastic, particularly at the venue in Tokyo where the sound was amazing and I think we would have been happy to play there all week. And I wish we could tour everywhere by bullet train. I had a great few days in Taipei and also some delicious dumplings. But the gig I think that blew us all away was Kuala Lumpur. We were a little sensitive to the fact that we were unable to perform certain songs for lyrical reasons, and we were not expecting such a diverse, up-for-it crowd. It seemed like every race, religion and sexuality was represented there and everyone was enjoying the same moment. Beautiful. A Benetton ad director's wet dream. This photo only shows a small sample of the crowd but it features Steve although you can only see his little leg & shoe sticking out as he plummeted into the audience after the final bow:


Next we flew to Singapore and played in a lovely but rainy park, and I was happy to meet up with the wonderful British folk artist & dear friend Vashti Bunyan who was performing at the Mosaic festival and coincidentally was staying in the next-door hotel. Music is a small world. Our final show was in Bangkok where we and performed a fast, furious and sweaty set at the Tiger Translate gig. Bangkok is a massive adventure and I love it. We landed right in the middle of the political protests and the headline in the newspaper that morning that read "Stay home, Bangkokians!". Great. Not what the promoter wants to see on the morning of a show. Butour crowd came out in forceand we flew home tired but happy.

The very next day I was in the legendary Air Studios in London recording my string, brass, woodwind and choir arrangements for Patrick Wolf's new album, "The Conqueror". The sessions were truly exciting and I cannot wait to hear the finished tracks. We worked really hard on this and I think it is Patrick's best album yet. 

I also popped into the Bella Union offices in Hackney to collect a promo copy of the forthcoming album from John Grant, "Queen of Denmark". I wrote and recorded strings on this and I love it. There are some stunning, brave songs. In fact the whole album sounds like an amazing psychadelic Carpenters LP, except it was recorded last year at Midlake's studio in Denton, Texas. It is a different world again, and it is equally great. 

So I haven't really had much time off. And now I have to pack, sleep, tidy my flat and phone my friends and family to say goodbye again. It's a long way to Chile so we're setting off pretty soon :) See you there on the 8th, Santiago!!