After years of critical and commercial success, Muse have created something of a cacophony of confusion of late. Their foray into dubstep was ridiculed by fans worldwide, and with good reason, but whatever Muse may be up to in the recording studio, they stick pack one hell of a punch on stage. With a sudden descent into darkness and a dramatic build up, they kick off proceedings tonight with new track ‘Unsustainable’ followed closely by ‘Supremacy’. With synchronised red lights flashing in full panic mode, we’re clearly off to a good start. ‘Hysteria’, a track from third album Absolution, sees one of the most elaborate stage props unfold -with a huge, sectioned, LCD-screened pyramid descending from the ceiling in dramatic fashion. So far, so Muse and with ‘Supermassive Black Hole’ keeping up the forward momentum thanks to Matt Bellamy exploring the touchpad on his custom build Manson it looks as though the band are on safe ground.
Yet here, unfortunately, is where it all starts to go downhill. ‘Panic Station’, a funky, slap bass number from their latest album, lacks lustre and the response from the crowd is notably subdued. ‘Resistance’ recovers from this minor hiccup somewhat, but with the setlist firmly nosediving straight into more songs from The 2nd Law, interest is definitely waning. ‘Animals’, while not the most engaging of songs, does have some excellent audio visual work going on – although the fantastic short of a Wall Street business type running through his office is more interesting than the song accompanying it.
The trouble with the new material is that it lacks consistency. It tries to be everything and the whole album suffers because of it. Despite a strong opening, it’s clear that the live shows has also been adversely affected by the inclusion of their latest material, a shame because they truly are an incredibly talented band with a tight sound and a huge stage. In the middle of five or six songs off the new album, Sunburn’ is thrown in for good measure, with Bellamy jibing “this is a song from our first album… if anyone remembers it”. A highlight for many a hardcore fan, not only because it is the only Showbiz song played but because it so rarely appears in their live shows, it is met with roars of approval but is just too slow of pace to bring the crowd back to the fold. Following up with ‘Time is Running Out’ is a good move, yet it’s a case of too little too late – especially when followed by yet more new songs.
They finish on a high by going back to the familiar in the shape of ‘Uprising’ and ‘Starlight’, a reminder of their more rocky days and definitely what the people want tonight. Ultimately, though, this has been the previously unthinkable – a patchy Muse show.
Photo: Debbie Hickey. See more images here.