In 2007 I saw a rock band at Wembley stadium for the very fist time, not really knowing what to expect. Little did I know that three years later I would be returning the very same stadium to see the very same band, this time as an avid fan.
The band in question are of course Muse, who finished their latest European tour at the weekend with two sell out nights at Wembley stadium. To say I was looking forward to this would be a massive understatement. I had great memories of seeing Matt Bellamy, Chris Wolstenholme and Dominic Howard under the Wembley arch and was hoping for a repeat. I was also hoping for a more striking performance that when they performed on last years Resistance tour. Not a bad show at all, but clearly not Muse at their best.
In traditional use style, there was a bit of theatre at the start with several ‘protestors’ running on stage with banners reading ‘they will not control us’ and ‘these wars, they can’t be won’, two of Muse’s most prominent lyrics. They soon cleared to reveal the band, with frontman Matt Bellamy dressed as usual in outrageous attire, this time a sparkly silver suit.
They opened unsurprisingly with Uprising, which has surely now become the staple opener for the band. It really got the crowd going and set an atmosphere which was maintained for most of the gig. Uprising gave way to Supermassive Black Hole (Muse’s top charting single ever) before we got our first treat of the night. MK Ultra, a track of the bands latest record, ‘Resistance’. Personally I think it’s one of strongest on the album and doesn’t get played enough, so I was more than happy to experience it, even if Matt’s mic was cut off half way through.
After a return for ‘Map of the problematique’ we were also given another rare treat in ‘Bliss’. I was lucky enough to see the ‘Origin of Symmetry’ track last time Muse were at Wembley, but this performance easily topped it and was clearly one of the best moments of the night. The extended ending was simply superb.
Muse played through a couple more obvious hits, with ‘Guiding Light’ providing a brilliant spectacle when streamers were launched into the crowd whilst Matt proved why he’s a guitar hero with ‘Hysteria’.
I was not prepared for what happened next.
It’s seen by most Muse fans as the quintessential Muse track, the band at their best. But due it’s ‘prog rock’ style and length, in recent years it hasn’t fitted with more ‘mainstream Muse’ and has been left out of most shows. I was starting to think I’d never see it live until those unmistakable drum beats signalled it’s arrival. For me it was the highlight of the night with all three members of the band putting their heart and soul into it. It was particularly pleasing to hear Bellamy’s amazing falsetto. But alas, it was evident why the song doesn’t get the gig time it deserves. I saw many people around the stadium looking on bemused at it. They sadly, just don’t understand it’s genius!
Muse kept the show going strong with a combination of more pop style sings (Starlight and Resistance) combined with their more unusual side (Unnatural Selection and surprisingly Ruled By Secrecy).
When the band returned for their first encore, they were joined by a rather bodged looking UFO! To be fair, it was rather eerie and cool at the same time, but there could have been some lights, ah well! The UFO had a spaceman/woman? performing underneath while the band performed the beautiful Exogenesis: part 1. It panned round the length of the stadium and got really rather close to the crowd.
For their second and final encore Muse really pulled out the stops, even if they were a bit obvious! Take a Bow saw Matt elevated in the centre of the stadium whilst wearing a suit full of LED’s flashing in time to the music. The traditional giant ball of ‘Plug In baby’ made a welcome return, but with a twist, they were giant eyeballs. And as we’ve become accustomed to, Chris played his harmonica proudly to signal the ONLY song to close a show with, ‘Knights of Cydonia’.
And that completes the set, one of the most original I have ever seen Muse play. It’s clear that this one was more for the fans than the night before (which saw more mainstream songs like Neutron Star Collision). It was amazing to see some of the now more rare songs performed and were done amazingly well. There were some disappointments, I was very surprised not to see ‘New Born’ make the line up, but overall, one of the best sets Muse have done in a long time.
I should also point out at this point that the set design was absolutely top notch. Such an original and different idea which worked so well with the sort of band Muse are, it was simply stunning. A big round of applause has to go out to the production team.
So that was Wembley all over again. As always I thoroughly enjoyed the show, but this was perhaps one more for the fan than the average listener of Muse. I just can’t wait for another three years so we can do it all over again!
Here’s a vid of MK Ultra from the night, I’ll upload more on my YouTube channel: