Placebo @ Manchester Arena ~ 5 December 2016

I’d consider Placebo as one of all time favourite bands – and they have been for such a long time. This would be my third time seeing the band and also the largest venue I’d seen them play – an arena!! I decided to go for a seated ticket because I’m quite short and I wouldn’t be able to see anything if I was on the floor. Plus, the last time I was standing, the crowd was pretty rowdy – was not a good experience having drunken middle aged men bashing into me.

It was my first time alone being seated at an arena show. I have to admit it was a bit awkward because I arrived a little bit early. I had one row of people in front of me before the floor, and there was a young security guard who was facing directly towards me – his job was to check that only people with standing tickets were allowed onto the floor. I bet he was looking at me and thinking I was a bit strange. And I could all around and opposite me that the seats hadn’t quite filled up yet. However, my seat was amazing in my opinion haha. I was sat in number 1, so I had no one to my left. And I had a wonderful view of the stage.


The support band were a group called ‘Minor Victories‘. I’d never heard of any of their music before this show but I really did enjoy it. I thought that they had the ‘Placebo’ type vibe? The vocalist had a very soft, sweet, ethereal voice. The drums were very pleasing and I loved the driving beats in ‘Cogs‘. The visuals accompanying this song were very striking as well, jarring shots of a girl running through the woods (if I remember correctly). Some of the songs were quite abstract and were focused on the instrumentals.

Members of Placebo’s touring band and then the band themselves slowly took their places on stage to the pulsing blue lights and beats of ‘Pure Morning‘. Brian looked stunning and Stefan looked very smart in his matching suit and trousers featuring a butterfly print. The song sounded awesome when the band kicked in all together with the guitars, bass, drums and keyboard.

I’d describe ‘Loud Like Love‘ as such a joyous song. The very recognisable opening guitar notes were coupled to the bright, warm multicoloured visuals – it was just beautiful! They then performed their new single, ‘Jesus’ Son‘, another happy, optimistic sounding song.


Things got a bit darker with the song, ‘Soulmates‘. This song was one of Placebo’s B-sides, so I was very excited to hear this one! The bass was strong in this song! The lighting got brighter, more intense and the smokiness increased when the chorus hit.

‘Dry your eye
Soulmate dry your eye
‘Cause soulmates never die’

Special Needs‘ is one of my favourites, I love the guitars so much. And the lyrics are quite sad and powerful. ‘Lazarus‘ was a song included on the US release of the album ‘Meds‘. The guitars were very catchy/groovy.


Stefan then got behind the keyboard for the following songs, starting with ‘Too Many Friends‘. The first lines of the song do sound a bit odd, but I do enjoy the chorus to this song. And I think I can relate to the lyrics a bit:

I’ve got too many friends too many people
That I ll never meet, I’ll never be there for
I’ll never be there for, ’cause I’ll never be there

Twenty Years‘ was next with Stefan playing the very prominent tune on the keyboard. ‘I Know‘ is a song that starts off slow, with the rolling drums, showing off Brian’s haunting vocals, before breaking out into such a loud and brilliant chorus! There was an awesome section where Brian and Stefan faced each other, playing their guitars, just rocking out.

Then they played ‘Devil in the Details‘ from the album, ‘Battle for the Sun‘. I’d never heard this song live before, and it was amazing! I went back home and added this straight back onto my playlist. Brian was kind of shouting the lyrics quite aggressively,

I’ve been wasting all my time
With the devil in the details
I got no energy to fight
He is a fucking pantomime
That devil in the details
And he is fixing up to take a bite

Space Monkey‘ is a strange sounding song, but has slowly become one of my favourites. It sounds quite chilling and Brian’s voice was a little distorted to give the effect of speaking through a megaphone. Brian got quite active with his hand gestures in this song. This is another song with a powerful chorus, Brian’s voice soars when he sings:

We’re sewn together
She’s born to Mesmer
Beside I stride her 
I die inside her

Exit Wounds‘ is definitely one of my favourites from the album, ‘Loud Like Love‘. Brian was singing the verses in the same style as ‘Devil in the Details‘, shouting out the lyrics:

As you wake does he smother you in kisses long and true?
Does he even think to bother?

It has such a slow build and then that epic chorus where Brian sings:

Want you so bad I can taste it.

And that drum beat that Matt plays is so catchy!

Next up, was ‘Protect Me from What I Want‘. I would have loved to hear Brian sing this in French 😉  Then they performed, ‘Without You I’m Nothing‘, paying tribute to David Bowie who was shown on the screen behind them. This song has really grown on me. Some of the guitar riffs in this song sound so emotional. There are so many layers to this song and when Brian and Stefan sing this final verse, it’s just stunning:

Take the plan, spin it sideways.
Without you, I’m Nothing.
Without you, I’m nothing.
Without you, I’m nothing.
Take the plan, spin it sideways.
Without you, I’m nothing at all.

They then played ‘36 Degrees (slow version)‘. The guitar sounds wonderful and Brian’s amazing voice was highlighted when most of the band faded out leaving with a soft drum beat resembling a heart beat.

4 7 2 3 9 8 5 – I gotta breathe to stay alive,
and 1 4 2 9 7 8 – feels like I’m gonna suffocate.
14 16 22 – this skin that turns to blister blue.
then with Fiona accompanying Brian singing:
Shoulders toes and knees, I’m 36 degrees‘, it’s so soothing.

Hearing the song ‘Lady of the Flowers‘ live, really changed my mind on this song. In fact, I didn’t even have this song checked in my iTunes, so it wasn’t even on my phone! I’ve since corrected that and I’ve been addicted to it lately.

Parts of the song sound poetic as Brian is speaks the lyrics.

Scuse me
I apologize 
He likes your attitude 
He tries it on for size 
He spends the afternoon 
Between your thighs 
How’s that for gratitude 
I apologize

After ‘Lady of the Flowers‘, Brian announced that we had come to the end of the melancholic section of the show. And so the next chapter started with ‘For What It’s Worth‘, followed by ‘Slave to the Wage‘, a happy sounding, fast paced tune.

Then it was ‘Special K‘, the song with that recognisable chorus that makes the crowd go crazy! The speed at which the band were playing was amazing, the guitars, the drums, the tambourine!

No hesitation, no delay
You come on just like special K
Just like I swallowed half my stash
I never ever want to crash
No hesitation, no delay
You come on just like special K
Now you’re back with dope demand
I’m on sinking sand
No escaping gravity
No escaping, not for free
I fall down, hit the ground
Make a heavy sound
Every time you seem to come around’

The Bitter End‘ is another fast paced song that makes the crowd jump up and down. Things slowed down a bit with the slow version of ‘Teenage Angst‘, which sounds so dreamy and chilled.


Then Stefan busted out his rainbow coloured guitar and lifted it above his head as Brian and the band started playing ‘Nancy Boy‘! Really happy to hear this song live as it is one of Placebo’s most well known songs. A song that Placebo always seem to play towards the end of the show is ‘Infra-Red‘, one of my absolute favourites. The continuous guitar and the strong bass line are so catchy. I love when Brian sings:

Someone call the ambulance‘ before they launch into the chorus.

The triumphant ending came with the song, ‘Running Up That Hill‘ – one of their most well-known covers. The band came on clapping to the beat of the song, which started when Fiona started playing the keyboard. There are a lot of feelings in this song. Brian kept looking upwards when singing the lyrics:

If I only could,
I’d make a deal with God,
And I’d get him to swap our places,
Be running up that road,
Be running up that hill,
Be running up that building.

There was a bit of a kerfuffle with some drunk dude that was stood on the stairs to my left, the security guards were telling him to get off the stairs but he wasn’t having it – and in the middle of the song he decided to run to the bottom of the stairs and jump over the barriers – where he got tackled to the ground by a group of guards!

What a show! I’d say out of the three times I’ve seen Placebo, this time would be my favourite! I had a fantastic seat and so the view was amazing too. There was an air of celebration, seeing as Placebo were still celebrating 20 years of being a band (which I am so thankful for!). Brian Molko is definitely one of my all time favourite vocalists and tonight his voice was ON POINT. Brian, Stefan, and the touring members Fiona, Matt, Nick and Bill played absolutely stunning music together. Placebo’s music never fails to make me feel happiness. I hope they keep making music for many years to come and that in the future, I’ll be able to see them for a fourth time ;).


Author: annagoestoconcerts

Hello, I'm Anna! ^^ I'm 23 and live in the UK. Currently a uni student studying Biomedical Sciences. Placebo, Basement, MCR.

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