CONCERT REVIEW: Muse Two Nights Down Under

Muse1_288Muse’s reputation preceedes them, and unless you have been living under a rock for the last decade, they really need no introduction. Named one of the top live acts in the world (perhaps coming second only to U2’s gargantuan stage shows), Muse are an aural – and visual – force to be reckoned with that will leave even the most hardened skeptics going weak at the knees. The first time I saw Muse several years ago, I was not at all familair with them, but I was instantly amazed that such a massive sound comes from only three musicians.

Having seen a significantly scaled-down version of their show at Auckland’s annual Big Day Out in January 2010, it was a no-brainer that seeing the full show was a must. Due to the sheer size of the stage production for the tour, no New Zealand date was scheduled this time around, so what other choice was there but to fly to Sydney to witness the spectacle that is Muse live –  not once, but twice on December 9 and 10.
The Australian shows were the final leg of The Resistance tour, after a mammoth 18 months of touring. Muse have always had a strong following in Australia, so it was no surprise that tickets for all of the shows sold out at lightening speed.

Scottish three-piece Biffy Clyro earned the coveted opening spot, and from the opening of “The Captain,” they commanded the audience’s attention. Biffy masterfully played a set heavy in material from their Mercury Award nominated album Only Revolutions, and I was blown away by the sonic ferocity of their set. To say that this band is tight would be a gross understatement.

This leg of The Resistance tour saw Muse resurrecting their Orwellian-themed set of the three columns.  The arena was overcome with deafening screams as the lights dimmed with the opening of “We Are Not The Universe,” and the screens around the columns came to life with the silhouettes of Orwell’s drones climbing the stairs of the towers.  Anticipation was at fever pitch by the time the screens dropped to the opening of anthem “Uprising,” revealing Matt Bellamy (guitar, piano, vocals), Chris Wolstenholme (bass), Dom Howard (percussion) and fan-favorite, keyboardist Morgan Nicholls tucked in behind Dom’s riser.

The relentless energy of the trio did not wain for the remainder of the show. The trio powered through favorites “New Born,” “Starlight,” “Hysteria,” “Feeling Good,” “Time Is Running Out,” “Stockholm Syndrome,” “The Resistance,” “Undisclosed Desires” and “Plug In Baby” – complete with the release of massive ‘eyeball’ balloons into the crowd.  Over the two nights a wonderful array of tracks both old and new were played – including personal favourites “Bliss,” “Showbiz,” and “Citizen Erased” (dedicated to the then-incarcerated Julian Assange).
The visuals compliment the show beautifully, and truly have to be seen to be believed.  The multitude of green lasers featured throughout “New Born” was truly stunning.

Both nights featured the same encore set – beginning with the beautiful “Exogenesis Symphony Part 1,” which was so breathtaking live…words simply can not describe it.  Closing the set was the epic “Knights of Cydonia” – complete with pyrotechnics – which ended the night on such a high note that a majority of the crowd would have taken several days to come back                                                                         down to earth.

Theatrics and visual effects aside, Muse are flawless live. There is absolutely no doubt that Matt Bellamy is a genius and a visonary; watching him play is simply mesmerising.

Their show is impeccable – although at times lacking in spontaneity – and they truly desire to be recognised as one of the most talented and groundbreaking bands in the world. Seeing Muse live should be on everybody’s bucket list – if only just for the sheer thrill of the experience.