Thursday, December 16, 2010

Muse December 2010

Few books in my life have had a more profound effect on me than George Orwell’s “Nineteen Eighty-Four”. I read it for the first time years ago and wasn’t able to sleep for a week afterwards. Having read it a few time since, I find that its one of the best books I’ve ever read, but also one of my least favourite. A hugely confronting read, I was apprehensive to say the least when I heard that Muse was releasing an album that was loosely themed around Nineteen Eighty-Four. Apprehensive, but not remotely surprised. With their already hysterical sound, I wasn’t sure how it would play out – but The Resistance is a good album. Not the best they’ve ever produced, but good. And most importantly, the music is big enough to carry the themes of hopelessness, mass control and surveillance. That creepy Big Brother feeling you carry with you for weeks after reading Nineteen Eighty-Four was perfectly conveyed at the Muse concert last night in Melbourne – at least when you could actually go beyond the screaming masses of 14 year of girls who got lost on their way to a Justin Beiber concert.

Having seen Muse many, many times (at least ten, but I think last night was thirteen for me) and given that I felt The Resistance was not their strongest material, I decided not to shell out $120 for a ticket to see them this time around. I had seen them at the start of the year at Big Day Out (their set was the only saving grace for an abysmal festival and day). As the concerts approached though, I quickly changed my mind and snapped up two tickets on eBay for $60 each. Bargain. And so I headed off to Rod Laver Arena to visit one of my favourite people – Matt Bellamy.

Here’s what they played
Supermassive Black Hole
Butterflies and Hurricanes
United States of Eurasia
Feeling Good
Undisclosed Desires
Time is Running Out
Plug in Baby

Exogenesis: Symphony Part 1 (Overture)
Stockholm Syndrome
Knights of Cydonia

This was a solid set – although I felt for $120 a ticket (even though we didn’t pay that) they could have played for a bit longer. Given their back catalogue, and the fact that this was a very mainstream set, I though an hour and 40 minutes playing time was fairly poor. We would have liked to have seen a few more songs from Showbiz and Absolution. Last time I saw them they have played Cave, Apocalypse Please, The Small Print, Sober and Showbiz which are all amazing songs and would have been well received last night.

I guess now that they play stadiums they have to play to the crows which means they won’t play anything other than their singles. Sad face.

But now onto the good news.

Muse are a really, really good live band. Their stadium shows are amazing. Matt and Dom are really incredible, talented musicians in their own right. They wear amazing outfits! (last night Chris was wearing an orange stripy suit and Matt a shiny silver suit) They are lovely and love Melbourne. Matt plays a variety of interesting, custom made instruments.

They are really great.

It’s funny that a band who are so obviously left-wing (Matt once famously declaring that he thought Sept 11 was an ‘inside job’) have such a huge commercial following. We were surrounded by a real mix of fans – screaming 14 year old girls behind us (annoying) and older 30-somthings on either side. For the first time ever I was seated for the show – a new experience for me – and I think its indicative of how old I am getting that I sat there thinking to myself “Hmmm, this is very comfortable and oh my! What a great view! And no dickheads bumping into me… How nice”.

I was glad we were sitting as they bought their massive stage show with them – there was lots to look at. They opened the set with each band member sitting in giant towers. I could never describe it properly and my photos are awful, so I stole some from the world wide web. Spectacular.

As they moved to the floor after a few songs Matt jumped out and started charging around the stage in his silver suit looking like a tiny little spaceman. Very cute. Lots of knee kicks, playing the guitar behind his head and end-of-the-world wailing. Awesome. Each time I see Muse play, Matt’s vocal quality gets better and better – he can really sing. Amazing.

Highlights included the guitar during undisclosed desires (wiki: Manson guitars have made a guitar for Bellamy called the "Keytarcaster", it is a guitar with strings but no pickups and a two octave keyboard built into the body of the guitar), during which Dom also came to the front of the stage and played there. Also loved it when they released the inflatable balls as they usually do at the end of the set – they did so during Plug in Baby last night – but with a twist this time. The balls were actually huge, white eyeballs, which was a creepy nod towards the Orwellian themes that dictated the show.

I always love watching Matt play the piano solo in Butterflies and Hurricanes and last night he performed flawlessly as always. I took a video of it – it’s a bit fuzzy where those douchebags behind us were screaming, but ok I think!

The lighting and stage set up was incredible. I guess that’s the advantage of doing huge stadium shows that cost a fortune to go along to – you can do amazing things. I found the sound quality to be good – not amazing, but certainly not bad either. And considering some of the shows I’ve seen at Rod Laver, that was a good result.

Seeing Muse always leaves me feeling a bit weird the following day. I think the Absolution album probably takes me back to another time and place more strongly than any other piece of music I know. For me, it evokes a huge sense of belonging and self worth, and sends me away from the world in which I live to a whole other place. Last night delivered as usual for me – each song from Absolution made me feel more and more human (after a shit 2010 frankly) and watching them perform made me feel like I had come home in so many ways. Corny, but true. They are an amazing band.

I know they have a lot of haters, but you can’t deny that they are a hugely talented bunch of people who have found a winning formula, both commercially and musically. I understand the hysteria of their music is not for everyone, but if you can look past that you will see a mind-blowing act who will continue to define live music for many years to come.

Love Muse. Love life. xo


  1. You've described exactly how I feel after a Muse gig and what Absolution means to me.

    Lovely write-up. Thanks :)
    V xx

    1. Thanks for your lovely feedback.

      Reminded me I must start writing again... soon!