On Friday night, Placebo made their long awaited return to Chicago to headline a show at The Salt Shed. This new venue is amazing and you couldn’t have asked for a better venue to pack in a few thousand eager music fans to witness such a beloved band.
First up was Poppy Jean Crawford. Poppy and her band played a 30 minute set of dark yet catchy songs that blend post-punk, shoegaze, pop, and indie rock all into one. This concoction was really good and her vocals were equal parts soothing, seductive, and haunting. Sometimes Poppy Jean would just sing, and sometimes she’d be playing guitar while singing, depending on the song. Her and the band were quite talented. Also for you trivia buffs, Poppy Jean’s mom directed the Janes Addiction video for “Been Caught Stealing”!
After an absence of at least nine years, Placebo finally made their way back to Chicago on their current tour supporting their latest opus, Never Let Me Go, which was released in 2022. The band was scheduled to play Riot Fest 2022 but sadly had to cancel. The stage was decked out with some large video screens in the background, and all the amps were white. Founding memebers Brian Molko and Stefan Olsdal, came out and each took a half of the stage, and behind them near the back of the stage was the rest of the band which included a drummer, keyboard player, and a guitar player. Molko and Olsdal shared the spotlight as the band performed and both moved around frequently during the instrumental passages of the songs.
The band opened with “Forever Chemicals” which happens to be the opening track off Never Let Me Go. It was a strong opener and those not familiar with the new album will be happy to know it is as solid of a release as anything in their lengthy catalog. They quickly followed up with the follow up track from the album, “Beautiful James”. The band sounded amazing and were playing flawlessly, and Molko’s voice sounded as good as ever. While they played, various images were displayed behind them on the video screens and the stage was really well lit. Sometimes the images displayed were that of the band playing as there was a small camera mounted in front of the stage to capture images of the band.
The two hour set was very heavily loaded with new material, they played a good chunk of the new album, and a few songs off of Loud Like Love as well. It’s tough to be a band with a 29 year career of consistently releasing great albums and be able to give people everything they hope for in a setlist, especially when you have two recent, and strong albums to showcase. The band didn’t dip into their earlier favorites until half way into their set when they played “For What It’s Worth” and then lined up a string of classics which included “Slave to the Wage”, “Come Undone”, “Infra-red”, and a killer rendition of “The Bitter End”. When the band left the stage, they had played 19 songs and clocked in close to two hours, and there was still more to come!
After a few minutes to catch their breath after barely stopping between the 19 song main set, they came back for a three song encore that featured covers of “Shout” by Tears For Fears and Kate Bush’s, “Running Up That Hill”, both were great covers, especially the Tears For Fears one. The band then said thanks and called it a night. They put on a hell of a great show, and while it may not have contained as many old favorites as some may have hoped, anyone who is a long time fan of the band and likes their recent two albums (both great), more than got their money’s worth with this excellent and energetic performance.