At 11.15pm on Feb 16, I sent the following text message – giddy with glee – to four of my friends: “Placebo. So. Good. Shook. Brian. Molko’s. Hand. Post. Show. Backstage. Happy. Happy. Happy.”
That was me trying my best to contain the teenage groupie inside my grumpy, creaky, adult self from bursting out and running around the room shrieking, with my hands waving above my head in a particularly retarded fashion. I need this job to feed my cat.
Placebo – best band in the world in my books (suck it, Coldplay) – was in Jakarta for the start of the Asian leg of their tour in support of the new album Battle For The Sun. And so was I.
Well, I wasn’t there in support of the album, seeing as I don’t play an instrument, have no musical talent and – as much as I often pretend when I’m alone at home – I’m not actually a member of the alt-rock band. I was there to give you guys a sneak peek into what to expect when the band descends on Fort Canning March 18 – the final date of the Asian leg.
Thanks to the good people at Midas Promotions, yours truly and 987FM’s Desiree were given all-access backstage passes to the show. Yes, every little groupie boy’s dream come true. I didn’t, however, get to say the line I’ve been dying to mutter all my life to burly security guys: “I’m with the band.” Darn those faultlessly polite Indonesians.
Of course we weren’t exactly hanging with the band. It was really more hanging in close-ish proximity. Which resulted in this:
This is the creaky wooden bench we sat on for about three hours. It was kinda like waiting for a bus that never arrived.
Fulfilling my groupie fantasy turned out to require some entertaining of ourselves. And lots of playing with our dinky digital cameras.
Here’s the schedule for the night taped to the wall:
Here’s the closest I got to their changing rooms:
I can, however, tell you that the band was listening to quite an eclectic mix of music in their changing rooms before the show, from Rihanna and Jay-Z to Gossip. And that the band had dinner at 6.55pm. Well, Brian Molko and Stefan Olsdal did. They chowed down with their violinist/keyboardist/back-up singer – but new drummer Steve Forrest was nowhere to be seen. The 23-year-old wasn’t with them at the press interviews earlier in the day either. Maybe there’s an age restriction.
Anyways, three groups of lucky contest winners (I’m guessing) got a chance to meet the band backstage. Gosh, Indonesians are well-behaved. They lined-up against a wall very quietly (kinda like a cross between students in trouble for cheating on their algebra test and death row inmates in front of a firing squad). When the band emerged from their dressing rooms, however, they shrieked the way I was shrieking on the inside.
Then it was show time.
It was a blistering, unrelenting, fabulous gig, with the band rarely breaking to breathe between 21 songs. The set-list was heavy on their new material (natch), featuring 10 out of the 13 tracks on the album. They opened with For What It’s Worth, into Ashtray Heart and Battle For The Sun. There was also Speak In Tongues, Breathe Underwater, Julien, The Neverending Why, Come Undone, Devil In The Details and Bright Lights.
The appreciative audience lapped it up.
Then went gaga when the band cranked out older favourites like Special Needs, Meds, Infra-red and Soulmates.
And went absolute ape-shit when the trio brought out the big guns. Every You Every Me, Song To Say Goodbye, The Bitter End, Special K, and closing encore number Taste In Men.
My voice was shot by the end of the night, of course. But my dancing feet were most happy.
The band was tight. Newbie Steve fit in perfectly (even if he’s the only one in the band with biceps). The energy was infectious. And Brian brought it. It’s sometimes easy to forget how powerful his trademark nasal bray actually is but the dude can rock it. And he seemed genuinely appreciative of the love the crowd was throwing on stage, thanking the audience several times and taking a bow with the entire band at the end of the show.
Giggly with delight (“It’s like my birthday and Christmas all wrapped up in a little ball!” I screeched to Desiree), we returned backstage to find an obviously pleased and very sweaty Brian, wrapped in a bathrobe, Marlboro Red hanging from his mouth.
“Fabulous show,” I said to him, shaking his hand.
“Thanks,” he replied. “See you in Singapore.”
Or at least I think that’s what he said. I could have simply heard what I wanted to hear (although if that were the case, Brian would have said: “Thanks, let’s hang out and do a SpongeBob marathon with Bowie.”). Oh well, you weren’t there and you can’t prove it. Traaa la la!
The waiting for the phantom bus was well worth the three hours. If only for this:
Now I can move on to the next item on my list of things to do: Stalking Tori Amos.
Placebo performs at Fort Canning March 18. Tickets (excluding booking fee) at $98 from Sistic; $110 on event day.