Muse at the Emirates Stadium, 25th May 2013

May 27, 2013 10:04 am

Muse kick off their first night at the Emirates with a bang. A very big bang. Support from Bastille and Dizzee Rascal ensured those in attendance got their moneys worth. The entire 60,000 seats sold out.

Bastille

Bastille

It was just before 6 o’clock in the evening when the band known as Bastille took to the stage to start off the evenings entertainment. Those of us that had been standing for 6 hours were more than in the mood for some music and their opening song “Bad Blood” was more than satisfactory. We were treated to three and half minutes of some kind of tribal folk techno led by strong vocals and thumping beat that went down smoothly and left you eagerly anticipating what came next. The next track, “Laura Palmer” was much of the same with frontman Dan Smith showing off his impressive voice. Sadly that is as far as it went. In fact the entire set could have been played continuously without breaks and it could have all been mistaken for one giant song. Without Smith’s impressive but repetitive vocals there wasn’t much left and fellow members Chris ‘Woody’ Wood, Lord Will Farquarson (Wait, what?) and Kyle Simmons showcased no identity outside of Smith’s central role. “Overjoyed”, “The Weight of Living Part 2”, “Icarus”, “Things We Lost In the Fire” and “Flaws” were all very much in the same vein and the only song to really get the crowd moving was the bands only real hit “Pompeii” which they ended their set with at around half 6.

After a half hour interlude it was Dizzee Rascal’s turn to unleash his inventory upon the crowd. 27 year old Dylan Kwabena Mills supports West Ham and likes to box to release energy – when he’s not selling 300,000 albums a year in this country alone, that is. After a short introduction from DJ MK the Boy in da Corner artist opened up with new song “Here 2 China”. An air raid siren starts the whole thing off followed by two vicious verses of what, in terms of quality, could easily equal any old skool Rascal, all accompanied by a bassline filthier than that orgy I was at over the… oops, wait, forget that. Next up was “We Don’t Play Around” followed by “Bassline Junkie” during which the crowd’s energy levels went through the roof.Dizzee Rascal

After that was my personal favorite and arguably the best performance of the set with “Fix Up, Look Sharp” which was followed by “Dance Wiv Me” and five new songs named “Heart of a Warrior”, “Something Really Bad”, “Love this Town”, “Goin’ Crazy”, the single of which features none other than Robbie Williams, and “The Power”, a DJ Fresh cover. The atmosphere was lively throughout and Dizzee’s hype man Scope showed a lot on energy and enthusiasm along with the main man himself.

Half way into it I found myself at the epicenter of the Great Sudden Shift of 2013 as tens of people were suddenly shifted backwards on a wave of bodies as the first of many mosh pits formed and proceeded to suck into it, along with others, two young looking girls. The pair of them looked like bean sprouts with appendages and how they came out of there alive I will probably never know considering the size of some of the brutes that started the thing. To end the set Dizzee decided to go out with a duo of hits the first being “Holiday” and the aptly named “Bonkers” for the way it made the crowd. After another half an hour interlude the stage suddenly came to life with three giant television screens displaying a woman describing the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics, the main band’s latest album theme, which stated;

“All natural and technological processes proceed in such a way the availability of the remaining energy decreases. In all energy exchanges, if no energy enters or leaves an isolated system the entropy of that system increases. Energy continuously flows from being concentrated to becoming dispersed and spread out, wasted and useless. New energy cannot be created and high grade energy is being destroyed. An economy based on endless growth is unsustainable.”

This was followed by a sizeable pyrotechnic explosion at the end of the cat walk that protruded from the stage like an arm and so began the extended introduction into the first song “Supremacy”. As the intro played what looked like a large nuclear reactor appeared to become assembled on the electronic stage backdrop and upon its completion the song began. Consisting of a big, fat sleazy metal riff, classic high pitched vocals from frontman Matt Bellamy and an extremely Live and let Die-esque outro, “Supremacy” was a superb opener and set the bar highly for the rest of the show. Next up was to be the band’s 2006 hit “Supermassive Black-hole” from the album Black-Holes and Revelations but not before Mr Bellamy began playing the wrong song then abruptly said “Fuck! Thought it was a different song”, stopped and restarted. After getting through the rest of the song with any trouble the next to be played was their latest single “Panic Station” in which we were treated to giant images of world leaders breakdancing including the likes of David Cameron at whom Bellamy shouted “C’mon David! Dance Mother-Fucker!”. Vladimir Putin, Angela Merkel and Barack Obama who was dressed in a blue and red suit of stars and stripes were also among the those depicted.

Muse's Set

“C’mon David! Dance Mother-Fucker!”

Next was “Bliss” from the 2002 album Origin of Symmetry and the return of the reactor to the stage display although this time glowing a blue and purple shade rather than the previous orange and red. After that came “Resistance”, a 1984 inspired love song that featured images of missile blue prints, military complexes and spinning cubes of binary coding ending in several searchlights scanning the otherwise dark backdrop. Following this was “Animals”, a lead guitar driven melody inspired heavily by the recent global financial crisis that featured an actor playing the part of a Banker/CEO in a video montage that subsequently suffers what appears to be a heart attack due to the explosion of fake money that marked his appearance onstage and subsequently dies. After that we dove into another song from Black-holes and Revelations, the epic space cowboy anthem that is “Knights of Cydonia” and with it an outro riff that you could only resist banging your head to in states of perpetual awe or death. Close behind it was the band’s first but not only cover of the night with Lighting Bolt’s “Dracula Mountain”. A popular cover recently having been played eight times this year.

Moving on from that we were then treated to the Bolero-like “United States of Eurasia”, another song possibly influenced by the themes of the book 1984 by George Orwell, that was played on a piano at the end of the crowd-splitting catwalk. Next was an old favourite, “Dead Star”. A song nearly eleven years old now, it was first played in 2001 before its joint 2002 release with In Your World as a stop gap between albums. The song features one of the heavier riffs in Muse’s repertoire and the outro played on this occasion was a somewhat homage to Rage Against The Machine’s “Killing In The Name Of” outro. After a short improvised jam between drummer Dominic Howard and bassist Chris Wolstenholme, known as the “Monty Jam”, we came to the bands second cover of the evening, “Feeling Good”. Originally written by English singer-songwriters Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricusse for the 1964 musical The Roar of the Greasepaint – The Smell of the Crowd, the band covered the song in 2001 for Origin of Symmetry and it has featured on their set lists heavily since. The song was also the second song of the evening to use a live actor onstage, this time a female actress playing the role of what could be described as a stock holder loosing her mind on the telephone set up on a desk specifically for the song before making her way across the stage and out along the cat walk towards a petrol pump. She then proceeds to douse herself in the “petrol” from the pump before dying at the songs climax.

Chris Wolstenholme

Chris During Liquid State

After the second onstage death of the evening the band reverted back to songs from their latest album The 2nd Law by playing their Dub-Step single “Follow Me” the album version of which was produced by British Dub-Step producer Nero. During the song the stage took on the guise of the latest album’s cover artwork, a map representing a network of the neurons within the brain using bright, fluorescent colours. The flowing stage graphics fit well with the songs bass driven electronic sound and the live vocals added that extra touch on top of it all. Next to be performed was bassists Chris Wolstenholme’s “Liquid State”. One of two songs penned by the former alcoholic for the latest album, “Save me” features a driving, progressive and heavily distorted bass riff and with Wolstenholme also relieving Matt Bellamy of vocal duties for three minutes or so. After that Bellamy donned a pair of video screen sunglasses for the song “Madness” that have become infamous at most gigs whenever the song is played. The ballad is a true showcase of Bellamy’s vocal talent an also features a guitar solo that Sir Brian May himself would be proud of.

Mosh pits had been frequent and deadly so far during the gig but the next two songs produced the biggest of their kind so far. “Time is Running Out” from the 2003 post-apocalyptic masterpiece that was Absolution was introduce by a short rendition of the old folk song “House of the Rising Sun” before clicking into its silky smooth bass intro. The build up to the chorus caused one of the biggest “mosh vacancies” I have ever seen with people clearing backwards to form a circle but no one beginning to mosh until the chorus dropped. Then all hell broke lose and whether you wanted to or not, if you were within ten foot of the pit you were going in it. No questions. A roulette wheel was then spun to decided whether the band would play “New Born” or “Stockholm Syndrome” arguably the two heaviest songs potentially on the set list and after a short few revolutions the ball came to land on “New Born” much to some people’s delight. Personally I would have preferred the ever so slightly heavier “Stockholm Syndrome” but having seen both songs live previously to this I wouldn’t have been to upset either way.

Guiding Light, Emirates 25th

Hundreds of phones light the stadium during Guiding Light

After the outright chaos and violence of the “New Born” outro the next two songs would be much softer and the stadium soon filled with dozens of lighters and phone lights held aloft for an alternative version of one of Muse’s oldest songs, the somewhat haunting “Unintended”. “Blackout”, another from 2003’s Absolution was next during which us fans were also treated to the aerial acrobatics of a dancer floating over the crowd via the means of a giant hovering light bulb that drifted above our heads throughout the duration of the song. The slightly cheesy love song “Guiding Light” was next and all three members of the band met at the bottom of the cat walk and played the song in its entirety down there. Afterwards came the electric synthpop of “Undisclosed Desires” the bands second single from the 2009 album The Resistance. During the song Matt took to the boundaries and spent the entire time meeting and shaking hands with audience members while singing as well as momentarily going under the catwalk for a quick look at the two deceased, now laid to rest in two coffins.

Hovering Lightbulb

A giant lightbulb hovers over the heads of the audience

The 22nd song on the roster that evening was “The 2nd Law: Unsustainable”. An insane mixture of the stringed section’s tone of impending doom with Bellamy’s own brand of electronic feedback and guitar distortion. Joining the band onstage during this performance was Charles, a giant moving robot that seemed to patrol the stage throughout the song and even blow smoke out of his ears like an angry cartoon character. Now it was the turn of one of the bands biggest hits to cause the crowd to erupt with energy as the trademark feedback echoed around the stadium for the start of “Plug in Baby”. If there were people around me who thought the chaos caused by “New Born” and “Time is Running Out” was too much I dread to think what those people thought of the anarchic moshing that ensued during the chorus of “Plug in Baby”. This was another level. For the first time in my life I got to witness an outsiders perspective on a huge ‘Circle of Death’ that had whirl-pooled into existence in front of me. After the song finished I even witnessed a boy I recognised from earlier on in the gig when he elbowed me in the ribs returning to his group bloodied and bleeding from an ear. For reasons right or wrong I couldn’t help but feel a slight sense of justice at that moment.

Following the hysteria (See what I did there) of “Plug in Baby” the symphonic opening of the official song of the 2012 London Olympics began to play out and the crowd let out a huge roar of approval. The stage graphics had turned into monopoly like figures all seeming to stomp their pixel saturated feet and click their 8 bit fingers as Mr Bellamy begun the first verse. By the end of the song all that remained were the audience singing back the final words of “Fight fight fight win win win” as the epic crescendo came to a climax. Next was the final montage accompanied by the instrumental “The 2nd Law: Isolated System”. The video showed various people running from what appeared to be a distortion of reality that was chasing them, consuming all in its path until only a single girl remained and the phrase “In an isolated system, entropy can only increase” repeated until the the words faded out. The three guys disappeared of stage momentarily but it was long enough for the crowd to begin chanting “We want more!” over and over until they finally reappeared.

The encore began with “Uprising” from 2009’s The Resistance and the powerful bass of Wolstenholme combined with the repetitive pounding of Howard’s drums once again whipped the crowd into some serious head-banging. As the song drew to a close nearly everybody in the arena were punching their fists into the air as the extended outro included Bellamy smashing his guitar into a silver box that had been onstage, throwing it down a set of stairs and tossing it up in the air and across the stage several times in true rock and roll style. After these shenanigans the band entered into their final song of the night, Starlight, another from Black-Holes and Revelations. An unusual choice for a closing song as it isn’t exactly the heaviest or epic of their discography but it was well played none the less. As the show finished the band collected the plectrums and drum sticks they had spare and tossed them all into the crowd before disappearing out of site one last time.

This is a band who consistently raise the bar for live performances and not just for themselves, they are already the best at what they do, but for other artists who have the capacity to go out on that level of sheer entertainment but don’t. They are one of the few bands today who refuse to stick to trends and fads yet still stay in the mainstream, a feat not easily achieved. With this year marking nearly twenty years since their formation Muse are a band who seem to lack any kind of entropy whatsoever and continue to increase not just the energy and entertainment in their live shows but their fan base as well. And if twenty years seems like a long time to you and your worried just how long we may have left of the three piece from Devon, I wouldn’t worry. If their live performances are anything to go by, these guys have still got a lot more to give.

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