Live Music + Gig Reviews

Muse @ Arena, Sheffield

4 November 2009



Usually, when ‘indie’ bands set their sights on filling the nation’s stadiums, the results are disappointing. That’s right, Razorlight, The Killers and Kings Of Leon – we’re looking at you in a disapproving manner. With Muse though, the opposite is true. In fact, it’s hard to imagine the Devon trio playing anywhere other than arenas. Arguably they’re the one band out there who can transform a soulless aircraft hanger into a laser-filled, riff-crunching, all singing all dancing multi-media experience.

Previous Muse tours have seen the stage design be almost as much a star of the show as the band themselves; we’ve had glowing spacecraft and flying acrobats. For The Resistance tour, they’ve raised the bar yet again.

The stage was dominated by three huge towers, which acted as both a big screen and backdrop and which housed each individual member of the band as they rose and fell. Opening track Uprising saw Matt Bellamy (wearing a pair of Calvin Harris-style sunglasses, oddly), Dominic Howard and Chris Wolstenholme encased in their own tower as eerie projections of men endlessly walking up and down ladders shone below them.

The unmistakable piano riff of Newborn saw the towers slowly fall to the stage, while the arena became bathed in green lasers, and Bellamy fell to his knees tearing into one coruscating guitar solo after another. It was at exhilarating moments like these that Muse demonstrated just why they’re often cited as the best live band in the world.

The new material, which sounds oddly flat on record, really came to life in the live setting. United States Of Eurasia – a limp Queen imitation on The Resistance – swooped and soared here, with Bellamy’s trademark flashing piano keys providing a memorable moment, while Undisclosed Desires sheds its underwhelming synth-pop origins to become another classic in the Muse live canon.

Yet it was the older songs that really had the crowd on their feet. Plug In Baby was the cue for several large balloons to descend over the crowd, while Hysteria was staggeringly exciting, featuring Bellamy jumping up and down, spinning around and running every inch of the stage, obviously having the time of his life. There was even a rare outing for early classic Unintended, which inevitably saw the audience bring the mobile phones and cigarette lighters out to illuminate the arena.

An encore of Exogenesis Overture, a blistering Stockholm Syndrome and a spectacular Knights Of Cydonia brought the evening to a close – the latter making a fine swansong with jets of steam bursting out of the stage at the song’s climax as Bellamy curled up on stage wrapped around his guitar.

It may have become a bit of a cliche in recent years to describe them as such, but it’s on synapse-exploding nights such as this that you can only agree – Muse really are the greatest live band in the world.

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