Placebo returns to Philadelphia on their 2023 North American Tour with an electric performance at Franklin Music Hall. The last year had been an exciting yet frustrating one for the band as they released a new album Never Let Me Go, their first in almost 10 years, but also had many delays while preparing for tour. The initial 2022 North American tour was postponed due to “visa and logistical issues”. However, this only amplified the excitement for the announcement for 2023. It is safe to say the band came ready to make up for lost time.
Any great band needs a great opener and Poppy Jean Crawford was just that. The L.A. based artist appeared with a trio that gave an aesthetic of a classic 1980s horror movie. As the fog machine began, the dark, punk and mellifluous tones were a perfect beginning to a night of amazing performances. It is pretty convenient that “The Takeover” was the band’s most recent release, as it is also an excellent way to describe the stage presence. Poppy’s voice could put you in a trance, while bass guitarist Marlena Noble provided a heaviness on bass that added a small spice of funkiness to the set. This was all pulled together with an almost synth-pop sound provided by Gregg Foreman on keys. From the opening performance, everyone in the crowd knew they would be going home satisfied with at least one band tonight…
Of course the “at least one” is merely an introduction because Placebo would follow with an electric set of their own. Before they could do so, they would have an important message to make the show as spectacular as possible. An announcement played pre set and posters around the venue presented the message to “kindly ask you NOT to spend the concert filming with your mobile phones”. The crowd obliged and it allowed for a performance with better communication and emotion.
Opening with “Never Let Me Go”, lead vocalist/guitarist Brian Molko took no time making his presence felt with piercing, fierce emotion in every note he delivered. His partner in crime and co-founding bassist, Stefan Olsdal, filled the room with energy as he put on a show with both his instrument and his body. While his bass complimented the sound of Molko, Olsdal paced across the stage with movement like a wild animal. Early on into the set, he would take a quick step off stage and onto a speaker to really make sure the audience was matching his electricity. Speaking of which, the entire show was accompanied by amazing visuals, both with rhythmic strobe LEDs, and the 5 panels behind the band that helped portray emotion in the songs. The full ensemble was created with the magic of the backing band for the tour. Bill Lloyd, a long time tour member, is a sorcerer on guitar. The everyman Nick Garilovic, is a multi-instrumentalist who could take on the keys, guitar, and even background vocals on a track. Drummer Matt Lunn added a pop to the set and Angela Chan was the final touch filling in songs with keys, violin, and percussion.
Throughout the night, the band stuck to mostly songs from the new album, while sprinkling in old hits here and there. As much as the audience enjoyed the newer tracks such as “Happy Birthday In The Sky”, “Forever Chemicals” and “Surrounded By Spies”, nostalgia really added to the atmosphere when the band played classics like “The Bitter End”. However I’m not sure it was louder in the building than for the encore featuring “Shout”, “Fix Yourself” and “Running Up That Hill”. The band really made sure to go out with bang as they put their everything into those final songs.
If you need to catch up on what Placebo has been up to since the height of alt in the late 90s – mid 2000s, I would absolutely recommend you get out to a show. They put on an incredible show and opener Poppy Jean Crawford only adds to the absolutely breathtaking aura.
More info on Placebo’s North American Tour 2023 here
Check out Poppy Jean Crawford here
Check out Placebo here
Poppy Jean Crawford: