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Placebo: MTV Unplugged

Cawing licentious androgyne acoustified.

This will come as something of a shock to those who figured MTV these days was just Kardashians as far as the eye can see, but the Unplugged series is still ongoing. And it’s Placebo’s turn to go acoustic. And they’ve played it smart – this is an exercise in subtlety from a band with the ability to develop even 20 years into their career.

While other, less bombastic bands can strum through their greatest hits without it being too much of a stretch, Brian Molko’s crew needed to be a bit cannier, remoulding their songs to embrace strings and piano without their frontman’s characteristically nasal vocals overpowering them in their more delicate state. And so abrasive old favourites such as their debut album’s 36 Degrees are given a lush makeover that adds 20 years’ worth of life experience since their inception.

The band are relaxed and charming, even when an untuned Turkish qanun threatens to derail Post Blue. And guest vocalists Majke Voss Romme and Joan As Policewoman bring a further emotional resonance to Every Me Every You and Protect Me From What I Want.

Placebo have always had – and wilfully provoked – their detractors, but this DVD is the classiest rebuttal of them all.

Emma has been writing about music for 25 years, and is a regular contributor to Classic Rock, Metal Hammer, Prog and Louder. During that time her words have also appeared in publications including Kerrang!, Melody Maker, Select, The Blues Magazine and many more. She is also a professional pedant and grammar nerd and has worked as a copy editor on everything from film titles through to high-end property magazines. In her spare time, when not at gigs, you’ll find her at her local stables hanging out with a bunch of extremely characterful horses.