They came with black clothing and eyeliner. With rules about enjoying the show without personal documentation. And with a pretty impressive light show and a sound that would likely make them look at Muse and then ask, ‘where the hell did we go wrong?’ Truth is, nothing. Not every band becomes one that can fill arenas and Roadrunner was comfortably full, a testament to the drawing power of Brian Molko and Stefan Olsdal, the two principals behind Placebo.
Along with fog, mood and pedalboards that were sizably impressive, the duo were augmented by several others to create a swirling web of emotional-laden rock. Forgive me but I couldn’t get past Molko’s appearance as some unholy union of a young Ron Jeremy and Ghost singer Tobias Forge coupled with a voice that had a somewhat eerie resemblance to Tool’s Maynard James Keenan. Olsdal swapped between bass and occasional guitar, his lanky frame roaming stage until it was time to return to his mic to lend backing vocals. Peter Hook might have a son unaccounted for!
“Come Undone” had some well-earned tension but when Olsdal tried to get a crowd clap-along, it didn’t get too far. And at the end of the new “Try Better Next Time” the line of “Somebody take a picture before it’s too late” was a bit ironic as the edict handed down to patrons was to not take any photos at all; fair enough, maybe phone usage was limited to surreptitious glances on the Bruins score. (Downer).
Opener Poppy Jean Crawford spun an intriguing mix of pop, goth, and synthwave; picture Sharon Van Etten or Angel Olsen if they listened exclusively to a Bunnymen/Cramps/Dum Dum Girls mix tape during their developmental years (and yes, I’m aware that the timeline doesn’t quite work). Props to the three of them wearing band shirts and not giving a single fuck.