I rate Muse as pretty much one of (if not the) best music act to have ever graced our planet. So you can imagine the excitement I had as I built up to Wednesday 4th November in Sheffield, Muse’s first 2009 UK tour date!
This was only the second time I had seen Muse (the first being the almighty Wembley Stadium gigs in 2007) and expectations were pretty high. I have to say at first, they didn’t quite deliver.
The first thing to take into account is that the stage is quite small. Obviously this is not the end of the world, but it did seem a little bit of a let down compared to the massive structure I witnessed at Wembley. But none of this mattered at 8.40 when the lights dimmed and the music started to play.
After a short introduction, three curtains fell and Muse were in front of us playing their hit single ‘Uprising’. Now I absolutely adore this song, been playing it on a loop for weeks, buts something about it live just didn’t click. And to this moment I’m not sure what. Perhaps it was the fact no-one around me was standing (I was seated and fairly near the back), perhaps it was the average lighting for this song. Maybe even it was the strange ‘Kanye West’ style glasses Bellamy was wearing! But something underwhelmed me about it… and it continued into ‘Resistance’, another song I love.
I was starting to worry that Muse had lost it live… until. ‘New Born’.
With this massive track from their earlier days, Muse turned the whole gig around. The pillars they were stood upon lowered and the amazing green lasers beamed across the arena. It was quite a spectacle. This also (finally) got the crowd to their feet. I felt the atmosphere really changed with this song, both for the crowd and for the band onstage. Matt Bellamy really got into the song and Chris Wolstenholme headbanged like there was no tomorrow. It really was a stunning performance, the only criticism being that maybe the band had peaked too soon.
There were a couple more fast songs (‘Map Of The Problematique’ and ‘Supermassive Blackhole’) which were again true crowdpleasers, before we moved on to ‘Guiding Light’. There was nothing really wrong with the performance here, the lights were good and the sound impressive, but I still feel the song itself is a bit weak and a little bit of a slowdown after the last few songs.
Hysteria followed, which was again a flawless performance, before we moved into ‘United States Of Eurasia’. The screens lit up with oh so familiar shots of Muse’s online Eurasia game which took place in the run up to ‘The Resistance’s release. The finale of this was also fun with mass screams of ‘SIA’ from the crowd!
The next song annoyed me… ‘Feeling Good’. Now I have no real problem with the song, but why play it live when it’s a cover. Muse have so many other great songs, please please please play them instead!
After an old song (Unintended) and a new song (Undiscosed Desires – the lasers were again incredible during this) we moved on to ‘Starlight’. Now I know a lot of Muse fans are still against this song, but you certainly wouldn’t know that on the night as a mass cheer erupted during those first few notes!
This flew into my personal highlight of the night, ‘Plug-In Baby’. This song is so old now, but really still is one of their best and the atmosphere, even at the back of the arena, was immense. The lighting, the sound, Bellamy’s over-the-top performance and of course the collection of giant balls bounced around the crowd made this absolutely fantastic.
The set finished with ‘Time Is Running Out’ and ‘Unnatural Selection’.
Muse chose the encore to showcase one of their more unusual sounds, part one of the Exogenesis symphony. Iwas very pleased to hear it as I think the track is a masterpiece, but I still think it’s a shame that we only got part one. Now I know a 14 minute symphony is a bit weird for a rock concert, but Muse are no ordinary band and this was no ordinary concert. I think it could have been spectacular if they had done so.
We raved through ‘Stockholm Syndrome’ before Chris got out his harmonica to begin part one of ‘Knight Of Cydonia’… the finale. And what a finale it was. The crowd were really into it by now and this just made for an amazing ending. Lights and smoke evrywhere, people jumping like mad, it was like complete chaos! – the perfect way to end such an amazing gig.
This was easily one of the best performances I have ever seen and may even have topped Wembley. However I did notice something quite strange. Much as I love ‘The Resistance’ I found that all of the songs of this album seemed to lack something, whereas the older stuff was amazing. Perhaps the band just have to perfect this newer stuff still!
If you ever get the chance to see Muse live, take it… you wont regret it as they really are one of the best musical acts… in the world!