"Molko shake"

The Times, Jun'96

Molko shake; Placebo Live @ King's College

The Times. London (UK): Jun 20, 1996

by Ann Scanlon

ALTHOUGH Placebo have only just released their debut album, their front-man, Brian Molko, is already provoking extreme reactions. His youth, androgynous looks and gender-bending lyrics demand the attention of both sexes. With his long black hair and heavy make-up, he could more easily pass for a girl than a boy called Brian. He was flanked by bassist Stefan Olsdal, who towered a full foot above him, while drummer Robert Shultzberg completed the line-up.

They opened the set with Come Home, a fast-paced, poppy tune which immediately got the front rows of the crowd jumping. It is Molko's voice that really sets Placebo apart from their contemporaries. Although he spoke in his native American accent, he sang in a high-pitched whine which aspired to the full-on raunch of his heroine Janis Joplin. One of the highlights of the set was the penultimate Lady of the Flowers, a fuzzy-edged, drawn-out number which Molko half spoke and half sang, mixing apologies and self-doubt with a sharp punchline.

Placebo's music occasionally recalls Sonic Youth, but Molko really does not sound like anyone else. When the anti-Brit bands anti-lads backlash kicks in, this trio of gender-confusing, non-Brits (one American, two Europeans) are going to be very well-placed indeed.