Review and Photos by Camille Germain
Nearing the end of their 2023 North American Tour, Placebo took the stage of Seattle’s Moore Theatre for their third final performance of their tour. After almost a decade of waiting, American fans were filling the venue with smiles and conversations about their history with the band. You could feel the personal impact of their music throughout the room.
Poppy Jean Crawford opened the night with her timeless, yet seductive voice and a two-person backing band. Lit up by low blue lights threaded with highlights of red, purple, white, yellow, and a solid amount of smoke, the mood was set. The Los Angeles artist brought her dark, alternative vibe and moody sound without any hesitation. She performed various songs from her discography, including "The Takeover" from her upcoming debut album. Included on her set was her cover of Tears For Fears’ "Head Over Heels," which she delivered perfectly.
Crawford might have only played a half-hour set, but she gave a full experience. This is an artist who is meant to perform. She captivated the audience with her moody, dark shoegaze and intentional sway. With her emotive lyrics and atmospheric sound, she was the perfect opener for Placebo.
Placebo transformed the space into an experience by asking the audience to be present without filming or taking pictures with their phones during the concert. And it worked. It has become difficult to remember a time when one truly felt connected to live music without some level of technological distraction. But during this concert, you could see the connection in each person as they watched the band perform in awe, eyes rarely leaving the stage, and their bodies moving with the music.
The stage was set with four screen panels and a video feed of their performance with varying static effects and changing colors. The atmosphere truly came alive with the fantastic lighting, smoke, and overall stage presence. This is a band that purely loves music, and you can see them get lost in it almost completely while they perform. They were there for the music.
During the start of their set, Brian Molko asked the audience to stand, leave their seats, and move up toward the stage. He told the room, "This is weird! We haven’t played a fully seated venue since high school band." Molko continued to chat with the audience while exchanging short quips with his bandmate, Stefan Olsdal. Though they didn’t meet until later, they both played in band in their high schools. "Can you guess what instruments we played?" Molko asked. "Stefan played the bass and I played the alto saxophone, which I still play when my neighbors piss me off."
With only a handful of conversation breaks, Placebo connected with their fans through authentic smiles, locking eyes with individuals in the audience, and playing their hearts out. Molko consistently walked to the edge of the stage to connect with the crowd through appreciative glances. Olsdal spent his time lapping the stage and lifting his arms into a clapping pose to instruct the room to clap. He encouraged cheering and brought the room alive.
From a majority of their latest album, Never Let Me Go, to classics like "The Bitter End," "Infra-Red," and covers of Tears for Fears’ "Shout" and Kate Bush’s "Running Up That Hill." They played with perfection, and as clear as their produced music is. The night ended with Brian Molko and Stefan Olsdal left, without their backing band, on each side of the stage, paired with their own effects board. They played a loud noise jam with matching static visuals on the back screens. The two bid farewell to the audience, Molko bowing with his hands together, thanking everyone, and Olsdal waving and smiling to the entire room. It was a pure evening, with immense appreciation from both the band and the audience.