sun 18/03/2018

Muse, Wembley Stadium | reviews, news & interviews

Muse, Wembley Stadium

Muse, Wembley Stadium

Teignmouth trio get more awesome every time

Absurd and fantastic: Chris Wolstenholme, Matt Bellamy and Dominic Howard are Muse

Some years ago I saw Muse playing at the Corn Exchange in Cambridge. Towards the end of the show, at a climactic moment (I think it might have been during their proggy epic, “New Born”), singer and guitarist Matt Bellamy reached into a bag attached to his microphone stand, pulled out a handful of shiny golden confetti and flung it into the air. It fluttered downwards most attractively. It was a terrific show, with some truly powerful music, but as far as visuals were concerned, the confetti moment was about as good as it got.

Compare and contrast that little affair with last night, the first of two nights at Wembley Stadium. Musically they were recognisably the same band – though over the years they have acquired a few more influences (adding Queen, disco and spaghetti-western themes to their unique cocktail of styles). But visually they were on another planet, somewhere in another galaxy: this was awesome, dazzling, dizzying, huge. I’ve followed their progress over the years, and each time I see them, they get bigger, more epic, more fantastic. No wonder Muse win so many awards and polls as “Best Live Band”.

At Wembley, the stage set was built to resemble the corner of some weirdly proportioned office block, beneath which the band performed; a satellite stage (now de rigueur in stadium shows) was also part of their armoury, as were a series of big illuminated spheres arranged behind the stage. Also, a spaceship made an appearance (I won’t give away its surprise ingredient). And the video screens showed a brilliantly jittery rendition of the events on stage.

But it was the lighting that played a real blinder. At times it felt as if I was staring at the dawn of creation, into an explosion of light and colour; floodlights pulsed, immaculately synchronised with the drums of Dominic Howard, while a firmament of spotlights crackled, sparked, snapped and sizzled.

Of course, none of this would have meant much without the bulging compendium of epic, stadium-filling choruses and riffs that Muse have assembled in their decade or so as a recording band, and the gut-rumbling power with which they delivered their songs. In Bellamy, they have a genuinely brilliant musician, a guitarist of astounding fluidity, a vocalist whose voice soars and shimmers, and a pianist of some accomplishment. Bassist Chris Wolstenholme, meanwhile, plays with a distinctive thrum and locks into the drummer’s groove. (Also on stage was the mysterious fourth member, playing keyboards and other instruments, vital but unacknowledged.)

This two-hour show delivered everything that a Muse fan could reasonably have expected: opening with “Uprising”, from last year’s The Resistance album (complete with extras marching around waving flags bearing the song’s slogan, “They will not control us”), they kept the crowd singing and punching the air with blockbuster tunes such as “Supermassive Black Hole” (with more than a whiff of Hendrix in Bellamy’s guitar playing), “New Born”, “Feeling Good”, “Time is Running Out”, the sensational “Stockholm Syndrome” and, of course, the screaming “Plug in Baby”. The momentum flagged briefly during a patch of slow songs, but not for long.

There’s a certain sort of rock-music purist who sniffs at stadium rock as not being the “real thing”; true, it’s a long way from being within spitting distance of a band, or following the movements of a guitarist’s fingers at the Shepherd’s Bush Empire. But stadium rock is a thing unto itself, a form of entertainment that has evolved to incorporate music, spectacle, razzmatazz, circus. Also, the crowd themselves play a crucial part, seething and singing and bobbling. At its best, it’s irresistible.

And this show was irresistible. Many of Muse’s songs are rooted in a preposterous mythology in which “they” (whoever “they” might be) are constantly out to get us, control us, force us to submit to “their” will. Frankly, it’s all a bit silly, but it didn’t stop me from singing at the top of my voice the refrain from the absurd and extraordinary “Knights of Cydonia”: “No one’s gonna take me alive.” Ridiculous; outrageous; fantastic.

Watch Muse's "Uprising" video on YouTube:

At times it felt as if I was staring at the dawn of creation, while a firmament of spotlights crackled, sparked, snapped and sizzled


Editor Rating: 
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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you haven't got any idea what have you seen last night, have you ? Unless you are restricted from certain comments. Overall very plain article.

Awesome show. Jaw dropping effects. Definiteley the best live act I've witnessed.

Fantastic show - saw Muse at Wembley three years ago and the sound was rubbish. Last night the sound was much improved and it was a wonderful spectacle. But you can't really go wrong with that setlist, can you?

I too saw them in 2007, and this was a so much better. The sound was perfect, you could feel the bass in your throat, and the setlist ( MK Ukltra and Bliss, 2 of the rarest beasts ), was near perfect. A stadium concert to rank with the best. And a shout out to the support acts, who played there parts superbly.

I'm sorry but I have to disagree with the above comments in regards to the sound. The gig/songs were amazing, the sound wasnt. It felt like there wasnt any substance to it, I wanted to hear the bass and rifts in my chest (like most other gigs) but it was like someones bedroom speakers turned up a little bit. Everything was amazing & mind blowing except for the sound. A massive shame but still a great night.

Terrible article, blandly written and calling their inspiration "ridiculous" and "silly" is just pure ignorant. How can you employ someone that is utterly unread? Do you not see that their goal for the last few years has been to open our eyes to the fact that our society is ebbing ever closer to what George Orwell and Yevgeny Zamyatin wrote about? The show was an anti-distopian soup of awesomeness! The "office block" stage you described is better explained like this: as a spectator you felt as though you were rallying for protest against government and war because the illusion the stage gave made you feel like you were in a city cross roads, not in wembley stadium. Along with colour-lit smoke and the sensational lighting blindingly flashing with crescendo and beat (you at least got that right) you were made to think that you were in the thick of an out of control protest march; tear gas, flash bombs, all wonderfully recreated by clever production! I hate to say it but I assume that I'm right, you were sat in a private box, or seated miles away from the crowd. Next time i suggest you get in the thick of the pitch standing fans because there-in lies the true experience, how can you write constructively about a performance that you essentially didn't experience fully? I offer one piece of advice to everyone, I had waited 9 years to see Muse and I would see them again no matter the cost, they were astoundingly fantastic.

Saturday's concert was incredible and I have seen Muse many times over the years. I went expecting a corporate stadium gig and was met by a visual spectacle. Marc Carolan (Muse Sound Engineer) mixed a sonic "onslaught" that never gave up in sheer power and intensity. (Yes it wasn't crystal clear but much improved over the 2007 experience and rocked!), The set list for Saturday night was almost the "best of" and I'll remember this one for some time to come.

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