Seeing Muse live is always a thrill because they put such a great effort into making the event an experience rather than just a gig. The stage for the ‘Drones’ tour was a 360 degree affair in the middle of the venue, with long extending arms for a full view from all vantage points. Above Dominic Howard’s head on the central rotating stage was the light rigging, screens and something resembling a giant waste paper basket. There were microphone stands all over the place, grand pianos and drum kits popping up along the arms from time to time and drapes acting as huge special effects screens to add to the visual impact. That’s before we’ve even started on the floating orbs. At one point something resembling Thunderbird 2 flew past. By that point in proceedings it didn’t seem odd at all.
To the music. The ‘Drones’ album saw Muse leaving behind some of the more orchestral elements of their sound and return fully to out and out rock music. The set kicked off with the Drill sergeant barking orders for ‘Psycho’ and led into ‘Reapers’, where Matt Bellamy really excelled with some magical fast fret work. He plays the Rock God extremely well, never shy of a head back pose while he’s at his work, because clearly a true genius doesn’t actually need to look at the instrument they’re playing. He throws in various extended guitar intros and outros, just because he can. Chris Wolstenholme nods along as he plays bass – he must surely have the strongest neck muscles in music. They continue to make political statements and rally against oppression, and the lyrics from ‘Uprising’, “They will not force us, they will stop degrading us” seems particularly apt in view of the current rumpus over fat cats and their tax arrangements. Fighting the system never goes out of fashion.
At this point in time it’s worth remembering that Muse are only three fellas. They make a heck of a racket for three guys and although there aren’t that many combinations you can make from three, they manage to mix things up well. There was a particularly nice jamming session with Dominic and Chris on bass and drums while Matt was absent, then later a drum solo from Dominic on one of the arms. As well as the new material, fans were treated to old favourites such as ‘Plug In Baby’, ‘Supermassive Black Holes’ and the evening was rounded off with ‘Knights Of Cydonia’.
Visual highlights of the night were ‘The Handler’, where two enormous puppet master hands appeared, seemingly moving the strings to “work” Bellamy and Wolstenholme, and ‘The Globalist’. What an epic song this is. At over ten minutes long it is ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ like in that it’s two songs in one – part monster guitar riff (Bellamy at his most brutish), part grand piano and singer (Bellamy at his most subtle and artistic). Impossible to imagine how this would be presented, what was offered was so spectacular, it was hard to tell what was a screen, what was a light, what was really circulating the atmosphere of the O2. And as it drifted into the monastic and beautiful harmonies of ‘Drones’ (the song) the audience were left speechless.
Muse have always impressed with their ability to put a complete conceptual package together and once again proved that they are a supremely professional and impressive live outfit.
This Muse article was written by Ellie Scott, a GIGsoup contributor.