PLACEBO summer festivals - 28.07.2009


If you've seen Placebo live this year then yes it it me on violin, keyboards, BVs, theramin & tambourine! A lot of people are asking me how I 'got the job' so here are the facts: I have known the band for a long time. In fact Brian first saw me play violin with Michael J Sheehy at the 12-Bar Club in London over a decade ago, during the Dream City Film Club years. I first worked with the band in 2005/06 when I wrote and conducted the string arrangements for the Meds abum ("Song to Say Goodbye", "Space Monkey", Pierrot the Clown" and B-Side "Lazarus"). Stef & I then wrote & recorded the strings for the Hotel Persona album, and I flew to Toronto in August 08 to meet with the band in the studio and to start writing the string arrangements for the new album, Battle for the Sun ("Battle for the Sun", "Happy You're Gone", "Julien" and "Kings of Medicine") which we recorded in London in the Autumn. My first time on stage with Brian, Stef, Steve and Bill was December 08 when we travelled to Cambodia to perform at the very special Angkor Wat MTV Exit gig, which was a magical experience and a great show. They subsequently asked me to tour with them and we have just completed a summer of European festival gigs. Next stop is Asia, then America, then back to Europe for a full arena tour.


Life on the road has been a whirlwind so far, we're staying at (mostly) fantastic hotels and utilising every kind of transport necessary to get us where we need to go. This has included boats, trams, cars, taxis, a couple of tourbuses, and every airline from a private jet to Easyjet (how would you feel if you approached your seat on the plane to find yourself surrounded by Placebo & crew? This happened to a few startled passengers travelling from Inverness to London recently who boarded their morning British European flight to find not only Placebo but also The Prodigy on board!). 

The festival crowds have been fantastically supportive and enthusiastic, it's amazing to see 50,000 people's hands in the air, and it's less fun to watch the front row getting their ribs crushed against the railing every night, screaming for water & sometimes medical assistance. But that's rock & roll life for the dedicated fan. The best gigs for me so far have been Paris Olympia (see pic), Bucharest Romexpo, Werchter Festival Belgium & the iTunes London Roundhouse gig. The coldest gig was Rock am Ring where you can see me wearing a coat & scarf, frowning & rubbing my hands together for warmth on the MTV footage, and the hottest was the Roundhouse and the stifling bullring gig last week in Granada. The most disappointing gig was this week in Cartegena, Spain, where due to unfathomable technical problems we had to abandon the gig after half an hour. Everyone felt horrible about having to do this but it was terrible trying to play onstage with instruments cutting in and out of the sound, unable to hear each other properly, uncertain of what the crowd could and couldn't hear, and knowing that MTV were recording our every move but that it wasn't sounding right. It was particularly frustrating given that every other gig so far has sounded amazing and we really wanted the show to be fully representative of what we are capable of, but even our wonderful and hugely experienced crew couldn't make it happen this time. We left feeling defeated.

Still, I am now looking forward to Taipei, Hong Kong, Seoul, Tokyo and Osaka next week. This is the first Asian tour I've done and the first time I've visited Taiwan, China and Japan. I have taken thousands of photos so far and will continue to do so. I hope to see some of you at gigs soon!