Fresh off the back of being named ‘Best Band in the World Today’ at the Q awards on Monday; Muse turned up on Saturday with everything still left to prove. The 2nd Law was hailed by some as their best album; others (myself included) said it was their worst—but yet everyone expected this tour to go above and beyond their previous shows.
After cancelling their appearance at Friday’s show because Ritzy Bryan had lost her voice, it was an overnight miracle that saw The Joy Formidable open proceedings on Saturday. For such a small, relatively unknown band they certainly made the most of the opportunity and made the stage their own for the 40 minute set. Playing both old tracks from The Big Roar and tracks from their upcoming LP—Wolf’s Law and the band seemed undeterred by the stagnant crowd. Instead they played a powerful and impressive set that had heaps of attitude which culminated with guitar throwing, drum diving and gong bashing to ensure that the audience had something to remember them by.
Muse themselves started the show huddled around Dom’s drumkit as the very obvious opening track ‘The 2nd Law: Unsustainable’ broke from its’ eerie choiral beginning into the dubstep-esque (also fondly now known as Musestep) riff that sent the crowd moshing in unison. Following this was a quick succession of Muses’ ‘heavier’ material from the last 3 albums that helped rile the crowd into a riotous frenzy, regardless of where they were.
The main attraction of their stage setup was the giant, inverted pyramid that hung ominously over Dom’s drumkit. In this instance, seeing is definitely believing, because not only did it work as a giant video screen—it also moved and altered shape during the show. It was pretty clear that if you weren’t 100% behind the show, you were going to be visually bombarded into submission. With each track there was a different video concept, from dancing aliens in the funky ‘Panic Station’ to the superb mini-movie of horizon implosion behind ‘The 2nd Law: Isolated System’ assembled by the unofficial fourth member of Muse, Tom Kirk. Alongside all of this were copious amounts of music-synchronised lasers and smoke bursts that guaranteed every moment you were looking at something else and trying your hardest to divide your attention between 3 different places at once.
Unfortunately, at points it felt like the visuals were all that kept some of the crowd going. A back-on-form ‘Time is Running Out’ was met with a lukewarm, at best, reception that left me feeling slightly self-conscious for being able to sing along. Similarly blast from the past ‘Falling Down’ didn’t have the reception anyone expected, with ‘Musers’ wailing at a rarity whilst newer fans exited for a quick mid-gig breather.
A definite surprise highlight of the night came in the form of sub-par The 2nd Law track ‘Madness’. It is, on the album, ridiculous in its repetitive simplicity whilst on stage Matt Bellamy spent the entirety of the song wearing sunglasses that flashed the lyrics in time with his vocals as well as playing with the overhead cameras. Another highlight of the night came from Matt and Chris actually descending in to the crowd to perform at the barrier—something previously unheard of from Muse, which resulted in Matt laughing through the last of ‘Undisclosed Desires’ before beatboxing his way back to the stage—helping to further spark rumours of album seven having experimental rap on it.
Their two part encore went down stunningly well, with both the band and the crowd giving it every last ounce of energy they had. ‘Uprising’ sounded like it was a few seconds away from actually leading to a political march and ‘Survival’ had 20,000 people proclaiming themselves to be winners. But it was the final song, ‘Knights of Cydonia’ that was the most impressive of the night and proved exactly why Muse can be called the ‘Best Band in the World’ because when they do it right, they really do it right.