Thursday, 22 October 2009

My first Placebo gig - Manchester Apollo 3/3/04

"If Placebo was a drug, they would no doubt be pure heroin - dangerous, mysterious and totally addictive."
- Brian Molko

It’s finally here, the day I’ve been beside myself waiting for. Weeks and weeks of anticipation and excitement all boil down to the two and a half hour car journey ahead of me. I honestly don’t think I’ve ever been this excited in my life; I’ve certainly never wanted anything as badly as I want this. I was devastated when my first attempt to get tickets failed; it took all my powers of persuasion to get my Dad to agree to drive up to Manchester. I’ve only ever been to one gig before and that was only just before Christmas. I don’t know what to expect as we all pile in my Dad’s trusty old Volvo and trundle up the M6 but I know it’s going to be brilliant.
I know it’s going to be the best night of my life. The journey is excruciatingly, painfully slow. Right up until I was seven we used to get the coach to Spain every year, a whole twenty two hours on a coach, but even that can’t prepare me for this agonising, hundred mile trip.
We finally arrive, about an hour before doors open; it takes ages to find somewhere to park. Everything either is either an abandoned factory or warehouse outlet or looks like a squat or drug den, I don’t think I’ve seen anywhere look quite so much as a relic of industry. We finally manage to leave the car somewhere – my Dad constantly muttering to himself that the windows are going to get smashed – and make our way to the Apollo.

As I see the sea of people huddled around it I know that I have found the place that is truly my world. There are a lot Placebo shirts, some positively vintage and some that look they were only brought that day. It would be hard to say what the average hair colour was; pink, blue, green, jet black, bleached blonde, name any shade and someone here will have it. Every generation is represented, I hear snatches of French and German, we are a truly international gathering. There is a very strong smell of weed which faintly annoys me; it’s such a cliché that the alternative are into drugs and I hate the idea that we’ve submitted ourselves as a stereotype.

It feels like coming home to a place you’ve been to a million times before. These people are my people, we (rather obviously) like the same music but Placebo is so much more than that. It transcends the definition of a band. It is more like a religion, although more tolerant and accepting than any that conventionally exist. In the words of the lead singer it is a convention of outcasts. A gathering of people brought together through music but with so much more in common that their favourite band.
The weather is unforgivingly cold, it’s barely turned March and there’s no hint that spring is on the way, and yet more than anything I want to stay outside in the bitter chill with these people. I want to talk to them, be around them and soak up every last drop of atmosphere. The effect is perhaps ruined, or reinforced, by my Dad’s assessment of the crowd, “This looks like a bunch of freaks!” I smile to myself not in the least bit offended. Yes, it is a bunch of freaks, but it’s a bunch of freaks that I belong too. I have never in my life had such a feeling of belonging. I haven’t shared as much as two words with any of these people and yet I feel totally accepted by all of them.

As my parents don’t quite share my enthusiasm for me fellow fans and my passion to want to freeze myself to death in the name of fellowship, I’m quickly lead to a pub round the corner. It smells horrendously of stale beer and sweat, I’m not a fan of pubs at the best of times and right now I want to be OUT THERE savouring the moment. I spend my time staring at the walls, covered in old Access All Areas passes and signed photographs, I wonder how many bands have drank in here, I wonder if the band I’ve come to see have been in here during the day I start to melt with excitement all over again. I AM GOING TO SEE PLACEBO!!!!!

I drink my drink in about a second and wait impatiently for it to turn seven. Two old men come over to my Mum and me and try to chat her up and she laughs that it’s been a long time since anybody did that. However, I’m not taken by the idea of drunken men leering over us and convince my parents that it’s time to leave. They say that they’ll be in McDonalds, the only source of civilisation (us freaks aside) that’s remotely close to the venue, tell me to take care and enjoy myself and they’ll see me later.

Enjoy myself, I think; I want to commit every last chord they play into memory. I’m going to get stupidly over-emotional and cry in front of three thousand strangers. I’m going to see the very reason why I’ve been breathing for the last three months stand on a stage in front of me. But enjoy it, I’ll try.

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