Musings on Muse

19 06 2007

If you read yesterday’s review of the Muse concert at Wembley Stadium you’re no doubt feeling pretty disappointed (or maybe you just want to rip my head off?) right now, since I didn’t actually tell you much at all about Muse’s set. Well, they say good things come to those who wait, and I hope that like the set itself, this review is a good thing that’s worth the wait. When the moment we had all been waiting for came, the boys came out in the middle of the Wembley crowd, (which was more like a sea of people) showered by a faux nuclear fallout (even complete with men in yellow Hazmat suits) to March of the Capulets, and walked down a walkway to the stage. It was an entrance fitting of the gods themselves and set the tone for what was to unfold.

The show opened up with Knights of Cydonia, and the band very helpfully put the lyrics up as part of their breathtaking light show in what I thought was a stroke of pure genius. How do you ensure that tens of thousands of people all sing together in unison? Give them the words. Of course most of us knew them by heart but somehow Muse managed to make words on a screen look just as amazing as any light show I’ve ever seen. They followed this up with Hysteria and then Supermassive Blackhole, and within those three songs the mood was set; we knew we were in for a very special night. For Map Of The Problematique, Matt actually came out onto the platform right in front of us. Not only was this a great photo op but it’s probably the closest I’ll ever come to Bellamy, the man, the legend, without a restraining order being slapped on me.

Forced In was quickly followed up by Sing For Absolution which was a spiritual moment with tens of thousands singing that haunting melody into the open sky (the roof was thankfully down as the weather stayed clear throughout). Next up, Butterflies & Hurricanes, complete with C02 smoke jets at the end, thrashed the mood back up into hyper-drive. Having done so the band threw their first curve-ball of the night, going back towards more melodic stylings with Hoodoo and Apocalypse Please (the nuclear-themed light show for which fit perfectly with the entrance the band made). Matt having made himself comfortable in his pianist’s chair, Dom decided it was a good time to ask us how we were feeling. Were we feeling good? After they launched into that, we certainly were! It was the first time I’d ever seen a live performance of a song made as much by the clever use of the light-show (depicting a summer meadow) as the music. With the sun still shining overhead the mood was perfect.

Speaking of the sun, the theme was quickly continued as Matt, seemingly not wanting to leave his clear topped piano (designed, no doubt, to reflect the lights better, much like Dom’s clear drum kit), started twinkling out the oh so familiar intro to what is quite possibly my favourite Muse song ever, Sunburn. The lyric “another corporate show” was given a hugely ironic twist by the setting, and in fact the whole anti-corporate feel to Muse’s music was just the perfect way to open the new stadium, which only makes it even more disappointing that the powers that be opted to allow George Michael to do it instead. Next up came Invincible, a song which took on an entirely new meaning thanks to the show. During the performance it dawned on me how the song perfectly described that very moment, how in those few hours at Wembley Stadium with Matt, Dom and Chris, we truly could say “together we’re invincible”.

And as the night sky fell upon us and the stars came out to shine, the band launched into Starlight. It was as if the heavens above were reponding to the set list, as if every aspect of every single moment had been perfectly scripted by fate. When I say to my friends that the night was indescribable, that’s the very feeling I’m trying to convey, it was as if the universe was conspiring to create a perfect moment, and then daring itself to see if it could do any better. It was around this time that I noticed that the giant inflatible spheres were actually beginning to glow lilac in the dark, just giving the whole thing an even more ethereal feel. As if to signal the fact that the night was drawing to a close, the next song was Time Is Running Out, which was followed up by the classic New Born. Together those two got the crowd raring again. During New Born the satellite-like objects began moving; they were spotlights with rings of light around the edge of the “dish”. Wow.

At this point the band left the stage, and you might be forgiven for thinking this was the end. If it had been, that would have been a fitting double to end with, but you just knew the night wasn’t quite over just yet. For one thing they hadn’t played Plug In Baby yet. Sure enough, having changed out of his red suit (and fair enough, the way he was running around like a madman), Matt lead the boys back onto the stage and into Soldiers Poem. Having been told to get our mobiles out, and duly obliging, the stadium became a sea of lights. It was one of those moments you know that you’ll never forget. They quickly followed this up with the other contender for my favourite Muse song ever (to be fair, I say that but most of the set was my “favourite” song ever!) Unintended. It’s rare for them to play it live and I was so disappointed when I thought they might leave it out.

However the standout moment of the night came next. During Blackout two of the giant inflatible spheres began to move and float over the crowd. Underneath each of them was a trapeze artist! These spheres dipped into the crowd every so often on their path over us. I must apologise for the rather abysmal attempt to describe what actually happened but I’m afraid it’s one of those moments in life where you really had to be there. This blog has some YouTube clips of what actually happened, and of other parts of the Saturday show (many of which were repeated again on the Sunday). The inflatible theme continued as giant balloons were released into the crowd during Bliss. One portion of the crowd to my right actually made one of the balloons spin on the spot for a while.

Once again, the band left the stage, and having already played an encore, some people were wondering if indeed Muse were planning on playing a set without the crowd favourite Plug In Baby. After all, they’d done the trapeze artists, and the balloons, what more could they do? No prizes for guessing that the band weren’t done just yet. Sure enough they came back out and sure enough, you guessed it, they went straight into Plug In Baby. This was easily the moment of the night, the crowd went wild, as you’d expect, and the performance was just drool-inducing. However the boys from Devon still weren’t done and launched into Stockholm Syndrome, finished off again with some C02 smoke jets. And quite fittingly, the band took a bow with, Take A Bow. But being the showmen that they are, just playing the song wouldn’t be enough. And how do you top C02 jets, amazing lightshows, satellite dish spotlights, trapeze artists and huge balloons? How about a wall of fire? Yep, the C02 jets were replaced by jets of flame, hot enough that you could feel them in the front row.

It was, without a doubt, the greatest concert ever. Not simply the best I’ve been to, but I even heard a radio DJ refer to it as the best he’d ever been to, and we all know how many gigs they go to. Muse are famed for their live shows, but they outdid themselves. Spurred on by the amazing setting, they’d decided to christen the place with a bang. Forget George Michael, this was the weekend that the stadium officially opened to concerts. Considering how much filming was done (and being in the front row we had a lot of cameras, both still and video, pointed at us throughout) there should be a DVD release of some sort. If so I urge you to get it, as it was a moment of history you’ll want to own. And what was my best moment? Probably when we asked Chris to give us a smile and he duly obliged, parking a silly grin on his face and looking right at us.



4 responses

20 06 2007

Thanks for the link to my blog. Glad you enjoyed the day. I was there on the Saturday and I could feel the jets of fire from right at the top stand. Wish I was in the standing area… will get tickets for that next time they play local (I live in Liverpool so it was a bit of trek to get to Wembley)

20 06 2007
Mr President

Not a problem, thought you wrote a very good review. Really enjoyed reading it.

Liverpool eh? Small world, I arrived at Wembley at the same time as a Scouse girl and we ended up being stood next to each other during the gig.

She was a bit gutted when she heard that the girl who’d left to meet My Chemical Romance had met the band, but I pointed out that being in the front row for Muse at Wembley Stadium was one of those times when you’ll look back and say “I was there.”

Sounds like you had a great day on the Saturday so I’m sure the trek was worth it!

21 01 2008
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