As the youngest of three children, my musical taste was greatly influenced by my (much) older sister. She was 22, I was 11, and we loved Belinda Carlisle. We loved Kylie Minogue. We loved Michael Jackson.
But as the mid 90s crept up on me and I entered highschool, everything changed. My new friends were listening to Pearl Jam, Nirvana, and The Smashing Pumpkins. They were wearing flannel, the boys were growing their hair long, and the girls embraced the “heroin chic” look. Grunge was at it’s peak even though the king Cobain himself had died just a year earlier. I remember one kid who turned to me in the very first class of Year 7, and said to me dead seriously, “the world is a vampire“, as if it were some sort of code. If I had been down with the right tunes I would have replied in similar form, “set to drai-ai-ain“, and been initiated into the halls of coolness for the next six years. But no locomotion or moondance could have prepared me for that.
The lights dim… the crowd murmurs… and without warning, the theme to the A-Team heralds our champions to the stage! The perfect opening to a performance 16 years in the making.
The quartet march on-stage, suited up and brandishing their weapons of mass entertainment. They take a bow, wait for the silence, and then proceed to render it apart with an explosive riff. A blinding flash of strobe lightning illuminates the room. I look back at my husband; he is laughing and rocking out, one arm around me, the other in the air.
Smooth; the lull of cicadas on a summer night; balmy air yielding a thick tension that clings to your hair and skin; softly crashing waves against the sand.
He steps into the spotlight with the deliberate slow of an accomplished Casanova. Polished top-to-toe; seemingly a proper, suited gentleman, my cohen-virgin eyes betray me.
The band is readied;
the audience hushed;
the theater dimmed.
And like a tawny port sliding silk-like into the core of your being on a brisk, winter evening, Leonard Cohen intoxicates in the smoothest and headiest way. He croons and charms his way into your heart, the lyrics washing over you in delectable waves, and you can’t help but become helplessly drunk on the deep, dark liquor of his voice.
The one thing that Placebo always does right in order to put on a successful gig is book the Inner West’s Enmore Theatre – an intimate venue with the best acoustics I’ve ever heard.
That being said, it takes two to tango.
The sound that erupts from the trio and their band is the pure, aural manifestation of sex. Master song-writer and front-man Brian takes center-stage, shying under a single spotlight, fingers working his guitar like a lover under his thrall. His voice bleeds bedtime stories of love and hatred; the eternal pendulum of life and love. Darkness and oppression theme their latest album, Battle for the Sun, but the only thing that hits me front and center is their overwhelming success.