"Placebo thrive on controversy"
Oldham Chronicle, Jan'97
21 Jan 1997
Fronted by a strange, androgynous Brian Molko, Placebo have attracted a lot of attention in a relatively short space of time. Whether deliberately or not, Placebo have been put forward as the antidote to Britpop, as far removed from the laddish, slacker guitar-pop image as they could be. And in doing so, they have angered as many people as they have delighted. Placebo are not the band you can take or leave. Every reaction to them is extreme.
For instance, I saw them in 1995 supporting Bush, and I hated them. Yet the new single "Nancy Boy" really impresses me, and the venomous B side, "Slackerbitch", is close to a master-piece. Then again, the third track on the Cd, a cover of the Smiths' "Bigmouth Strikes Again" is extremely annoying in that it lacks imagination, and the result is a pale imitation of the original. One effeminate singer paying tribute to another.Placebo have come a long ways in a short time, but their indie status allows the band, and particularly Brian, to revel in the outrageous image they present.
In the same week that East 17 sacked Brian Harvey for his irresponsible and outspoken views on drugs, Molko was telling rock magazine Kerrang!: "I love drugs, life wouldn't be the same without them."But then again, someone who enjoys being mistaken for a woman is hardly going to worry about influencing impressionable young fans.
Where the controversy has almost destroyed East 17's career, Placebo are thriving on it. Brian is not afraid of making people uncomfortable. "What I would find amusing , a reaction I would like to create for example, is for somebody who in his life has been homophobic, to come to a gig and mistake me for a woman for the first half of the gig, and actually think I was cute, and then discover I was a bloke and have to ask themselves some questions about themselves, you know."
Whatever anyone thinks of the look and opinios of Placebo, there is no denying that their, shall we say eccentricities, make for interesting and unusual subject matters for songs.
Like them or hate them, Placebo are certainly inhabiting a musical planet of their own in a time when originality is a dying talent.
As to whether they're still awful live, I don't know. They should have developed a lot since I saw them, but make your own mind up, Placebo play Manchester University on February 13, wuth Deus supporting.