Placebo@The Usher Hall


So this was the first time I’ve been to a gig of this sort in an age.

In fact, I think it’s the first time I’ve ever been to a pure nostalgia show where the artistes haven’t got any sort of new product out, and it is just them roping in the money for the pension fund.

I had no interest in this gig and paid £40 for it.

This was a band I could remember the name of, and I remembered the singer’s name, but I have no memory of any of their songs, or even the titles, or anything!!

The only people I come across that liked this band are significantly younger than me.

To me, this band was just a sub-goth act after the fact.

I realised, immediately, that I have no idea of the behavioural norms for this sort of gig.

 

I see a lot of bands that I’m totally unfamiliar with, but those bands have to sell themselves to you.

This was a band I’m totally unfamiliar with, who clearly felt they already owned the audience.

 

I had a vague memory of this band being European rather than British, which would have given them some little illusion of sophistication. But on stage there was just a fat guy with bad hair (trying to disguise the fact that his hair isn’t what it used to be) croacking (his voice wasn’t totally gone but his range was clearly restricted) away in a generic Ay-Merrick-‘n accent.

(I always feel so sorry for those minor indie-stars who feel condemned, despite all that time and nature can throw at them, to wear the same hairstyle into their dribbling old age just to maintain the hope that someone might still recognise them – that they might still be special to someone!)

The stage seemed enormous for the size of the venue, ridiculously wide given the almost total lack of movement on stage. There seemed to be two major design considerations: the width seemed to be required so that the singer and guitarist (who I assume were the only original members) never HAD to go within 22 yards of each other; the raised platform at the rear meant that the paid minions/rest of the band (many of whom may have doubled as roadies) were never in camera shot.

The stage was dominated by a giant video screen spanning the entire width, unfortunately it seemed to be serviced by a single low-res camera somewhere in front of the stage. To compensate they occasionally super-imposed bits of their original promo shoots which didn’t do anyone present any favours. Presumably the video was meant to make them look a bit more important than they are (as well as distract you from the minions at the back), the lack of content undermined this. A lot!!

Similar, was the racks of guitars at either side of the stage. Both the singer and lead-guitarist needed their instruments replaced between each and every song. And yet, there was no noticeable change in the sound from one track to the next.

Similar again, there was one track where there were five guitarists on the stage with no noticeable shift in volume or sound. They didn’t even make a visual point of this because most of the guitarists were confined to the back of the stage.

The bar staff seemed to think this was a really popular gig, but looking at the crowd it seemed to be the relief of a band you’ve heard of playing Edinburgh rather than any great feel for this band. There were maybe 100 or so actual fanatics dispersed around the crowd, as could be seen by the sporadic islands of the single raised arms trying to give it the stadium rock response. The most amusing of these was the guy level with the middle of the stage, around five rows back: rather than the single-fist he went for the pointing finger (which kinda looked like a Nazi salute at first glance). What made made it amusing was the wagging of the extended finger in response to each lyric – I’ve no idea if it was meant to be supportive or censorious, but he was always pointing right at the singer.

The band obviously meant something to some people though, because you’d look around and see grown-up versions of those adolescent males who give all they’ve got in a rigid white-knuckled, clenched-fist, bellowing recitation (which really doesn’t facilitate the act of singing) with tears streaming after every line.

Well leave us your words of wisdom, oh wise one!