Edinburgh Corn Exchange

Is it too late to ask for our money back?

News just in: Nottingham nihilists Six By Seven have covered Greg Lake’s ancient ‘I Believe in Father Christmas’ for [I]The Big Issue[/I]’s forthcoming Chrimbo compilation album. For those under 50, it should be pointed out that Greg’s Santa-based song is possibly the most excessively prog tune ever to have waddled from the yuletide carol bunker. By covering such a track, Six By Seven have inadvertently proved that they are the closet prog-rock boffins we suspected all

along. Hurrah!

Tonight, the prog they make is absolutely blinding; a relentless, impenetrable wreath of white noise punctuated only by the odd Hawkwind whoosh and crazed sax squeal. Greg only knows what they’re on about but, like all the finest bands, comprehension takes a back seat to sheer spectacle. They’re from Nottingham. They’re called Six By Seven, and, frankly, allowing Placebo to headline

over their wiggy genius is like following a controlled nuclear explosion with the damp rasp of a whoopee cushion.

Placebo are not from Nottingham. They are, instead, from an alternative, opium-scented universe where sin, fab sex and exciting drugs flow like fine wine. Or so they would have us believe. Unfortunately, the disparity between Dame Molko’s wicked vision and what Placebo actually amount to is as vast as is dispiriting.

Their current, third album, ‘Black Market Music’, is by turns deathly dull and plain embarrassing, their muscular guitar nous lapsing into flaccid goth meandering. Meanwhile, Molko himself has become little more than a crudely sketched caricature; his sparky self-belief replaced by empty braggadocio and tiresome, humourless defensiveness.

Tonight, it’s difficult to remember any of the reasons why we first afforded Placebo so much attention. They plough through newies like ‘Black-Eyed’ and the laborious ‘Days Before You Came’ with sweat-free professionalism: Molko, cigarette permanently in hand, stock-still and unsmiling under glaring lights. Even when ’36 Degrees’ begins its guitar-driven ascent to the stars, there’s the sense that Placebo are going through the motions, singing for their supper when once they owned the restaurant. Song after song passes by in a fug of doomy

guitars and laughably po-faced bass; only the occasional sarky interjection from El Molko (“I hope you’re having fuuuuuuuuun!”) relieves the tedium.

The truth is that Placebo simply don’t matter anymore. We have the likes of Queens Of The Stone Age and Trail Of Dead to provide our visceral thrills now, rendering Placebo’s brand of misanthropy childish and, ultimately, obsolete. Placebo promised us the ride of our lives. What we got, however, was little more than half-hearted impotence. Is it too late to ask for our money back?

Sarah Dempster