Placebo / My Vitriol / Seafood. Brixton Academy October 18 2001

Not my first choice of band to see admittedly. I don't know a great deal about them, having had a copy of their first 2 albums done for me a couple of weeks before this gig. But Vicks wanted to go, which is good enough reason for me. However, I hate driving in London. Hate it. It was tricky enough finding my way around the rapidly being reconstructed roads of Birmingham first, but then London is a law unto itself. Especially after the gig when the road I'm following to get out of the City suddenly appears to have disappeared and I have no clue whatsoever where we are. Road signs appear to have absolutely no relation to the markings on the road (where there are any), and you invariably find that you suddenly need to be 3 lanes further over than where you are and you've got 10 years and a thousand cars behind you in which to make the switch. Nope, London is an evil city in which to drive. Don't do it kiddies. Just say no.

Still, we manage to find the car park, get the tube and arrive at the Academy and get in in time for first band Seafood. Who are, well, a bit bland and boring. The stage here is big, but they're still crammed onto a small area at the front, where the drumrise almost splits the band down the centre. Which is pretty much the most interesting part of it all for me, although as they depart with a song that's to be their next single "so go and buy it", the crowd reaction indicates that I may be missing the point somewhere. Or maybe not.

Next are My Vitriol. I'm sure I saw them once before in Nottingham, where they walked off stage after about 3 songs unhappy with the reaction of the crowd. And I don't know if that's a good thing or not. Tonight there's no such problems, as they seem to be welcomed warmly by a vast selection of the crowd. The music is all pretty new to me, I heard a couple of their songs on earlier releases via the mighty Organ Records, but honestly can't remember any of it. And tonight, there's more stage presence from them than Seafood, and there's some interesting stuff going on, but for the most part, the songs blur into one mush of sameness.

It's been a looooong time since I've been at Brixton Academy. Therapy? and Sepultura were probably the last gigs I saw here, and we're talking Therapy? Troublegum days and Sepultura Chaos AD days with Paradise Lost supporting. A long time ago. I don't remember noticing how cool it all looks in the darkness. The floor slopes, meaning you've got a good view whereever you are, I remember that, but the decoration and lighting is designed to make it almost look like say a Roman ampitheatre, architecture, placed outdoors in the still darkness of the night. Of course when the lights are up it doesn't look the same, but it's such a difference to much of the sterile blandness of leisure centre boxes in which many gigs these days are held.

They come on to a fairly bare stage, four large lighting stansions behind them and a backdrop which kind of looks similar to the bubblewrap Garbage used on their last tour. Large white tiles, that will reflect and receive some projections as the set progresses. As they stroll out, the bassist in particularly, all lanky limbs, is camping it up totally. And the sold out venue acclaims them rather loudly. The first few songs are apparently from their latest album. Brian Molko looks small, the stage dwarfs him. As the set progresses, I'm surprised by how many of the tracks I recognise, even after only a few listens to those albums. Pure Morning, Every U Every Me, Without You I'm Nothing all pass by. Around me people are dancing and singing, and when Molko stretches his arms out into an almost Jesus Christ Pose to say "welcome ladies and gentlemen, we are Placebo" the roar of approval is scary.

The band swap instruments a number of times, the bassist playing guitar and keyboards, Molko playing bass. The annoying thing though is the fourth member who is in the wings, not totally hidden. You can see him being given a guitar, or a bass, or sitting at a keyboard for each song. Providing the musical backbone to the band, to fill out the sound and include all the little extras. It sounds like this mystery man is the mainstay of the live sound almost, and as such it would be nice if he wasn't hidden away, but embraced and welcomed to a side of the stage. It's not cheating as such, just not as open as it perhaps ought to be.

Nancy Boy ends the main set, and receives a typically raucous greeting. It's then they tend to loose it. Departing the stage before returning for an encore which is 3 songs which all seem to drag the momentum of the set totally for me. They push things a bit further by claiming another 2 encores on top of all this, before they leave the stage for the final time, allowing the crowd to sing the final words. Which they duly do.

Not brilliant for me, but then I'm not really a fan. But not as bad as it could've been. Now it's just getting out of London that's gonna cause the problems, then Birmingham before finally Nottingham.