Following the commercial success of The Resistance late last year, Muse recently returned to the stadium circuit. Their two closing sets on the UK leg of this tour hit England”™s capital, with a packed out Wembley Stadium.
Walking into the stadium early to embrace the day and catch the warm-up acts, one could be forgiven for questioning what might be in store later on. The almost overstated stage dominated the temporary pitch – its strange angular design stood tall, proud and suggestive, generating a warm sense of intrigue. The sun began to set, and the lights came up. The rapturous roar of the crowd bellowed and echoed around the arena, and Muse kicked-off their 2 hour set with the explosive ”˜Uprising”™. With the volume turned up waaaay past eleven and approaching obnoxiously loud, the instant energy generated from the excitable crowd felt as if it would blow the roof off. Though the volume was overwhelming, the sound of every single note, drum kick, guitar pluck or vocal line was lovingly tweaked to create a sound as pristine and perfect as a fully mastered studio release. Moving effortlessly into ”˜Super Massive Black Hole”™, It was clear from the off that this was a set to be remembered.
Muse were keen to demonstrate their musicality at every opportunity, with mini-jams and interludes between numbers keeping the crowd guessing as to what was going to come next. The set-list combined a masterfully constructed mix of old and new material in a seemingly random fashion, though cleverly strung together to keep old and new fans of the band together on the same musical journey. The band were as tireless as the crowd as they stormed through their set, with a rousing sing-a-long session that showed no signs of stopping through ”˜Hysteria”™ and ”˜Citizen Erased”™. The theatricality of the band was demonstrated at regular intervals with good use of explosive pyrotechnics and well placed flashes of music genius. This was particularly evident with their sublime cover of ”˜Feeling Good”™, not to mention their cheeky crowd pleasing introduction to ”˜The House of the Rising Sun”™ before suddenly dropping into ”˜Our Time Is Running Out”™.
As ever, Muse were keen to demonstrate that they were intent on putting on an epic show. The UFO Tour certainly lived up to its name when out of no-where, it seemed, came a floating shiny balloon, with a glittery gymnast suspended underneath on a trapeze. Not content with that, Muse showed they were not afraid to splash the cash with their raising stage pieces floating the ever charismatic Matt Bellamy high above the stage in, literally, a flashlight suit and jacket.
Suffice to say, as the gig came to an end, there was a resounding chorus demanding an encore, and an encore was certainly on the cards. And what better way to come to a close than with the rifftastic sing-a-long classic ”˜Plug In Baby”™? As if that wasn”™t enough, they rounded off the explosive evening with their emphatic ”˜Knights of Cydonia”™.
Muse claim that their impressive stage design was inspired by George Orwell”™s 1984, and with intense lights peaking out of each hole in the roofing, there was more than enough light present for anyone to watch (from anywhere). The video wall above the lighting was tremendously effective and engaging. Well constructed vivid video imagery provided a great backdrop to the music all night.
The only downside to the stage design were the big screens. With any large gig, anyone from a third of the crowd back is never going to see over the back of people”™s heads, no matter how high the stage is. It is all well and good having video walls on the side of each protruding angle of the stage, but if the big screens are only as high as the stage it”™s a bit redundant since, once again, the heads of the people in front will be in the way. Though I don’t want to detract from the spectacle that was this epic masterpiece, it’s worth mentioning that tickets these days are not cheap and taking into account the size of the stadium, it would have been nice for people a little bit further back from the stage to be able to actually see the band they paid to see (even if only on a screen).
That said, this gig was tremendous. The set-list was well thought out, the musicality on show was inspired. This was more than just a concert, this was a full on monumental show. One performance this reviewer won’t forget in a hurry.