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Lanxess Arena, Cologne, Germany
4th December 2009
Placebo, Silversun Pickups, Expatriate

I was more than excited to have the opportunity to see PLACEBO again. Last tour they played for about 7,000 people in Düsseldorf. For this tour, everything was much bigger and they played in front of more than 13,000 fans at the Lanxess Arena in Cologne. I left my home quite early on that Friday afternoon because I knew about lots of roadwork in the way and several traffic jams around Cologne. But still it took me 2.5 hours and finally I reached the arena just in time for the first support act of the evening, EXPATRIATE.


Australian rock band EXPATRATE has formed in 2005 and would soon start producing their first EP ‘Lovers le Strange’ at keyboardist Damian Press’s studio. The two singles spawned from that EP went on high rotation at a national radio broadcaster which eventually led to several festival appearances. In 2007 the recording of their debut album ‘In The Midst Of This’ started. The album would receive general critical acclaim and bestow them incredibly successful tours and a loyal following. EXPATRIATE is Ben King (vocals, guitar), Cristo (drums), Damian Press (keyboards, guitars, engineering) and David Molland (bass). /

Music & Performance
At 19.45, the Australian four-piece entered the stage. I was pretty curious about the show because I was positively surprised by their album ‘In the Midst of this’ released just some weeks ago. Even though officially the start of the show was announced for 20:00, the arena was very well filled and people positively welcomed the band, very well deserved because the four guys kicked ass with lots of passion. Already the first band of the evening had a decent light show which was supported by a big colourful band banner hanging behind the musicians on front of a big curtain covering most of the stage to hide PLACEBO’s stage setting. Sadly, the photographers had to leave the hall after two songs and so, I did not really see much of the band’s performance.

Music: 8
Performance: 7
Sound: 8
Light: 7
Total: 7.5 / 10

Silversun Pickups

Prior to forming the SILVERSUN PICKS all the band members played in various bands and knew each other already from their works. The release of their first EP ‘Pikul’ drew them a strong following already. The band released their debut full-length album ‘Carnavas’ in 2006. On the tour supporting the album, the band opened for Australian heavyweight WOLFMOTHER. In April 2009, their second album ‘Swoon’ was released to positive reviews. SILVERSUN PICKUPS are Brian Aubert (guitar / lead vocals), Nikki Monninger (bass / vocals), Chris Guanlao (drums) and Joe Lester (keyboards / samples / sound manipulation). /

Music & Performance
The band from Los Angeles reached a respectable 7th rank in the American Album Charts with their recent album ‘Swoon’. As for myself, I did not hear of the band before at all and was curious what’s coming up now. Also this band had a big banner with the band name hung up behind them and so, the stage setting looked very similar to the one before. There was just one little difference: the keyboard player was sitting all the time on the left side nearly hidden in the dark while the rest of the band was illuminated quite nicely. The live show of the three guys and the lady at the bass was pretty convincing though. Quite some decent similarities to the headliner of the evening were also audible. But no one was moaning about that during this evening and so, the band received a good applause in-between their songs and the 40 minutes playing time were over pretty fast. Well done!

01. Growing Old Is Getting Old
02. Well Thought Out Twinkles
03. Future Foe Scenarios
04. Substitution
05. Panic Switch
06. Lazy Eye

Music: 7
Performance: 7
Sound: 8
Light: 7
Total: 7.2 / 10


PLACEBO's rise has been steady, cultish explosion. And while their British invasion has flown quietly under the radar, their rise has been nothing short of astronomical. In 2000 their third album 'Black Market Music' sold one million copies and hit number one across Europe. In 2003 'Sleeping with Ghosts' topped that selling 1.5 million albums, going top ten in twenty countries and saw the boys playing to 18,000 at the Bercy in Paris. Six years later they’re still out there and in the meantime have released another successful album with ‘Meds’ (2006). Having enriched their line-up with a new drummer, the band recorded the follow-up ‘Battle for the Sun’; released in June 2009 spawning the two singles ‘For What It’s Worth’ and ‘Ashtray Heart’. PLACEBO is Brian Molko (vocals, guitar, keys), Stefan Olsdal (bass, guitar, keys) and Steve Forrest (drums). /

Music & Performance
While the stage was prepared for PLACEBO, several short films like before in the breaks between the bands were shown on screens on both sides of the stage. On the band website you can vote for your favourite movie. Finally, sharp at 21.30, the show was up to start. During the intro, the curtain still covered the stage showing a black burning sun, just like on the album cover. When the first sounds of the opener ‘For what it’s worth’ floated through the hall, the curtain fell down and revealed the stage and the band. Surprising for me, the trip PLACEBO was extended by three more musicians for the live performance. Not a bad idea when you all of a sudden play such big arenas. Also very decent for the big stage was the whole stage setting. There was a big screen in the back and two more over the heads of the band expanding over the whole stage wide. On both sides of the stage, there were two more screens showing live pictures of the whole show. So, people sitting far behind also got a very good impression about the things happening on stage. I must say that the setting looked much better than DEPECHE MODE ones I experiences several time during the current tour already.

Lucky press people we were, we got a very good spot in the FOS area to watch the show and had a brilliant few onto the show. Second song of the set was another song from the current album, ‘Ashtray Heart’ named after the band’s name before they were PLACEBO. Third song and also a new one was the title song of the current album, ‘Battle for the Sun’. Finally it was now time for something older with ‘Soulmates’, ‘Speak in tongues’, ‘Follow the Cops back home’ from the previous album ‘Meds’ and one of the all-time fan favourites, ‘Every you every me’, which was hysterically celebrated. No one in the arena was sitting anymore. And let me tell you, 13,000 people can make a lot of noise! Following now were ‘Special needs’ and ‘Breathing underwater’ also accompanied by great video projections that were perfectly matching the content of the songs. Good compensation for the fact that there was not happening too much on stage and also Mr. Molko was not talking very much. But before ‘Because I want you’ started, he was telling in German, that there will be now a break after all that Rock’n’Roll and that it is time for something calmer now. And so, the already mentioned song and following ‘Twenty years’ marked the ballad time.

With ‘Julien’ and ‘The never-ending Why’ two current songs followed before the end of the main set came nearer. Three more songs and then there was already the ‘Song to say Goodbye’. Under thundering applause, the band left the stage and during the short break, the audience was again entertained by a short film before the band came back for several more songs. First encore was with ‘Bright Lights’ again a new song before with ‘Special K’ the first song out off the ‘Black Market Music’ album followed. During this song, the audience was asked to deliver the well-known “Daradadadadada...” and anyone was singing loudly. ‘The bitter end’ marked the end of the first encore bloc and the band left stage again, but not for long because there were still three more songs on the list: ‘Trigger Happy’, ‘Infra-Red’ and finally ‘Taste in Man’ ending the show, but only two of them were played.

What is left to say now after this breathtaking show? It was big tennis and I was more than happy about the chance being part of the crowd. The stage setting was very well chosen for such big venues, the video projections were fantastic and so was the light show. Also sound-wise there was nothing to moan about. I just felt a little sad that some of my old favourites were missing on the setlist but well, you cannot have everything, right? After all, the band played for two hours.

01. For what it´s worth
02. Ashtray Heart
03. Battle for the sun
04. Soulmates
05. Speak in tongues
06. Follow the Cops back home
07. Every you every me
08. Special Needs
09. Breathe Underwater
10. Because I want you
11. Twenty years
12. Julien
13. The never-ending Why
14. Blind
15. Devil in the details
16. Meds
17. Song to say goodbye
18. Bright Lights
19. Special K
20. The bitter end
21. Infra-red
22. Taste in men

Music: 9
Performance: 9
Sound: 9
Light: 10
Total: 9.2 / 10

All pictures by Daniela Vorndran ( / /

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