MUSIC DVD: PLACEBO’S “WE COME IN PIECES”

How is it that Placebo’s fans keep getting younger and younger? I can remember a contingent of teenage girls crowding the alt-rock trio’s Toronto debut in late 1998, and that same flock of adolescent fan femmes flocked to their most recent tour, to support their 2009 album Battle of the Sun, as documented on We Come In Pieces.

While the behind-the-scenes features of most live music DVDs are lightweight, secondary to the concert footage, Placebo has outdone itself with their second live disc. The trans-European band expanded itself to a sextet for the Battle For The Sun tour and thus shows off a far bigger sound than ever before, giving a weight and ferocity to older songs like “Nancy Boy” and “Teenage Angst” as well as a full-bodied vigour to newer tracks like “Bright Lights” and “For What It’s Worth.” A cover of Nirvana’s “All Apologies” sounds particularly natural and welcome.

But the disc’s jewel is “Coming Up For Air,” an hour-long documentary directed by Charlie Targett-Adams which not only traces the grueling 18-month tour to support Battle but the complex friendship and creative partnership between Olsdal and Molko. We also get to see the excitement of new drummer Steve Forrest, replacing long-time timekeeper Steve Hewitt. An American who had never toured the world before, Forrest, who is mostly bare-chested and excited, gets occasionally depressed by the reality of touring the world, far away from friends and family. His experience is contrasted against those of his bandmates (and employers), who have toured the world some eight times in the last 15 years, makes for both amusement and drama.

Placebo fans looking for a souvenir of their favourite band — and Placebo certainly inspires deeply-felt fandom — will be well pleased, and Molko and Olsdal retain their mid-’90s thinness, even if Brian, seemingly debauched as ever, is looking a little worse for wear. Performance-wise, however, Placebo remains top-notch, a glam rock juggernaut with a poetic soul and a raging libido. We wouldn’t have it any other way.

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