"Placebo Gig Review"
7 Feb 1997
Back in the Eighties, Japan singer David Sylvian was dubbed "the most beautiful man in the world".
Anyone looking for a candidate for today could do worse than take a close look at Brian Molko, the strikingly androgynous American frontman of Placebo. With his black-bobbed hair, varnished nails, panda eyes and bee-stunning lips, Molko flashes gender confusion in neon letters.
His presence on Top Of The pops was a signal for outraged fathers to put a boot through their TVs and brickies to fall in love. Sadly, anyone not within 10 ft of him at Reading's Alleycat will have struggled to get the picture. The venue's low stage means the diminutive figure of Molko is obscured from sight for the entire gig though no one complains, not even when the ceiling begins to leak.
"Nancy Boy", the recent Top Five single, is the band's rallying cry but there's nothing fey about Placebo's sound: anguished, visceral punk rock propelled by a punishing rhythm section marshalled by skyscraping Swedish bassist Stefan Olsdal. It triggers a tidal wave of crowd surfing in the heaving venue.
Live, Placebo's energy comes off in waves. But Molko remains coyly unmoved by the frantic activity unfolding around him. He teases the audience with talk about "exchanging bodily fluids" before the band tear into "Bionic", but remains otherwise impassive.