Battle for the Sun

  • 2009-11-11
  • By Anton Ponomarenko

THE REAL THING: Placebo brings its unique combination of musical styles to Arena Riga.

RIGA - It is often how we perceive things that matters, rather than what they really are. Haven't you ever swallowed a pill, waited for the effect, and only after your stomachache, or whatever it was, is gone you notice that you took the wrong pill and it all comes back again?
It is sometimes fascinating with children when they bump their head and cry. You stick a band-aid on their knee and suddenly their head stops hurting. Weird.

And it works that way with pretty much everything. If all of your friends told you that the latest Tarantino movie is a dreadful bloodbath which makes very little sense and is put together badly, you are very likely to dislike it, too. And it doesn't mean that you have no opinion of your own, although this also may be the case; it usually is the peculiar subconscious processes going on in your head.

I ate a snake once, because I thought that it was chicken. I had some doubts at first, but then my unsuspecting brain convinced me that this was chicken and I finished it 's no problem. What happened next I keep secret, but until I was told that it was in fact a snake, everything was going pretty smoothly.
The same goes for art. If you're a fanatical Cubist, you're going to adore most of the paintings by Picasso, because your sub-consciousness tells you that this guy with a twenty-word-long name was a great artist and a co-founder of the Cubist movement, and you won't notice that some of his works are rather average and you won't care that other people have the same proceedings after seeing his works as I had after eating snake.

One's will- and mind-power is used in medicine and clinical research. A patient is given a sugar pill, but he isn't told that the pill is in fact inert. This causes the patient to believe that this pill will improve his condition and this belief often results in a real therapeutic effect, and a person gets better. This phenomenon is called the Placebo effect.
As hard as it is to critically evaluate paintings, it is even harder to tell if this or that band, performing in one or another genre, is any good. So it probably is even harder to evaluate a rock-ensemble called Placebo, especially knowing that by definition a 'placebo' is basically a scam. Something that is said to be true, but it isn't.

This placebo, however, is real. And it's astonishingly good. The band's bassist, Stefan Olsdal, has remarked in one of his interviews, that Placebo literally translates from Latin as 'I will please.'
Anyway, their music, despite sometimes being quite depressing and heavy, is very pleasant to listen to, because of its unique combination of styles (the band's performance was influenced to a high degree by such rock-legends as Depeche Mode, David Bowie, Iggy Pop, The Cure and The Pixies) and the recognizable voice of the lead singer, Brian Molko, who is also the author of many heart touching songs performed by Placebo.

This summer the band released its latest album 'Battle for the Sun' and is currently on a world-tour. The concert agency 'Top Concert' has managed to arrange for the only performance they're going to give in the Baltics to take place on the stage of Arena Riga on Tuesday, Nov. 17. They really are a phenomenal band, so if you happen to enjoy a little post-punk-rock performance 's you're more than welcome to come, but be sure to buy a ticket in advance.