by / July 11th, 2010 /

Oxegen 2010: Muse

It’s hard to image that there’s a better live band doing the world gig circuit right now than Muse. From the moment drummer Dominic steps on to the stage clad in a large spiky Mohican and a pale green undergarment, the front of the Oxegen crowd has turned into a frantic shoving match, and it’s clear this is a band that’s live reputation precedes it. -Plug In Baby’ sets the tone, sending hordes of bodies cavorting across the front of the stage, before Muse hit the musical jackpot with the varied live set every fan has come to know and love over the last half a decade or so. The Devon three-piece step up to the arena tour playing field was confirmed largely off the back of a heaving, epic Glastonbury performance in 2005, one that many attendees still argue was the best live show they’ve ever seen. It’s the playful introductions, manic pre-track instrumentals and pure familiarity combined with riff-centered, rock out quality of the band’s music that makes them such a special prospect.

These days there’s a focus on the material from Black Holes and Revelations as well as the operatic aspects of The Resistance, though at times we’re given some nostalgic moments through brilliant takes on some of the subtler corners of The Origin Of Symmetry. Testament to the level of Muse’s peak is in the vibe at the back of the crowd. When State drifts back for an overview, the slush area behind the sound tower is rocking out just as hard. -Uprising’ – complete with sing-along words on the big screens that not one member of the crowd needs for anything but dramatic effect – gets the rebellious juices flowing, while -Supermassive Black Hole’ transforms itself into a live song that doesn’t seem quite so much like a silly take on a -my first space’ book. The subtle blends with the melodramatic, pace changes don’t sap the drive of the show, and it’s genuinely difficult to pick out a bad song.

How do you quantify a band this good at what they do? If you like Muse at all on record, it’s hard to imagine how seeing the likes of -Absolution’ and -Time Is Running Out’ converted into their epic, operatic forms could be anything but a massive highlight. Stage show, lights, strange sunglasses, underwear on the outside and a crowd that chant their name twenty minutes before they come on stage: Muse is a band that’s developed from sitting at the slightly experimental end of indie rock in early efforts like -Sunburn’ to being a manic live prospect that blasts all comers into an energetic, eccentric, playful, frenzied oblivion. Long may this incredible form continue; who cares about a bit of mud, anyway?

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  • Kev

    Afraid I must disagree with this. Thought Muse was a pretty bland performance. The tracks from “Origin of Symmetry” were performed well but their new work is just not of the same standard and this transfers over into the live set. For long periods i found myself bored, while I was at the back of the crowd and could see the hoardes of people leaving. Calvin Harris was the preferred destination for most (benefiting from playing in the Green Spheres tent) and he was much more upbeat and entertaing. I’m not a big Muse fan but with all the hype surrounding their live shows I expected considerably more.

  • MARK

    Kev u are pretty hard to please lol they were amazing by far the best act at oxegen!!!

  • Very welcome to your opinion, Kev, of course. I thought they were stunning, and while Id say my favorite time ever seeing them was their Glasto ’05 headline slot, they still blow me away every time 😀 Didnt get near the back until the last 3rd so I have no idea how many left, but those still there were dancing like there was no tomorrow 🙂

  • Reading this back now, btw, it comes across bitty and full of overlength sentences, so hope it makes sense… driving back in the evenings and writing reviews in the morning before heading down took it out of all of us covering this for State, and I’ll be the first to admit this isn’t the best piece of writing I’ve ever done. Still, hope it gets the idea across!

  • David Walsh

    Well i know it ain’t some peoples cup of tea, but if you want rock Muse certainly gave it at Oxegen! I was right up the front pretty much and for me it’s the only place to be when your seeing your favourites. My shoes were covered in muck and i was soaked to my skin but that couldn’t dampen what i was seeing on the stage!
    I seen Calvin last year, he’s a good performer too but Muse are a different calibre and genre too! And James it was a blunt, accurate and as surreal as Muse’s entrance which had me confused but made me enjoy it even more!

  • Ciara

    Completly agree. Absolutely brilliant performance. You would have to be crazy to say that was bad. Everyone around me was practically bowing before the stage after the show.

    @kev Calvin Harris was the prefered destination for most. How do you explain the thousands watching Muse?

  • Tatra

    Fantastic performance, was sooo tired and cold but with the first two notes regained the energy and was going mental in the mud!!!
    I did miss their piano solos but I guess they could not accomodate it given the conditions – too many bands for one stage. Yes I found 1-2 songs too slow, must be a new stuff, but I was wrecked and the rest of the concert blew me away!!!They are just unbelieavable!!!!!! Just truly love them

  • Kev

    @Ciara: I meant that Calvin Harris was the preferred destination for the people who were leaving Muse. I know he had a much smaller crowd overall! Sorry if that wasn’t clear.

    And to anyone else – totally entitled to the opinions but from where I was standing it all just looked a little bland. I just feel that Muse have gotten worse as they’ve gone along and the new songs in particular were just a little dull. Like I said I really enjoyed the stuff from Origin of Symmetry. Tbh I think I was just expecting a little too much given the hype surrounding them. “Best Live Band in the World” and all that jazz.

  • Michelle

    Muse rocked and for any rock enthusiast, Muse delivered! Of course, there are going to be a few festival goers finding Muse’s epic rock numbers less appealing as the latest thing to hit the music shop shelves, but if you want to go see a band whose music will last an age, and who are noted for being one of the best live acts ever, then no argument can be made – Muse are the best band on the scene and I cannot see any other band taking that away from them for a long time!

    I was at the back of the crowd, (my own choice, so I would have room to really give it welly without hitting anyone in the face, but everyone around me was going as mad as me for them! I did see some people leave when they played their slower songs, but a handful of people, hardly equates to ‘most people preffered Calvin’ as Kev said.

  • Kev

    @Michelle Not sure if you can read but as I said in my second comment the “most people” preferring Calvin Harris was with regard to the people who were leaving. Most of the crowd who were leaving were going to Calvin.

    Not sure if I can make that much clearer really. Muse had a far bigger crowd and the handful (bit of an understatement. It was hardly thousands, but there a considerable stream – especially when the rain started again) who were leaving were largely heading towards to Green Spheres where Calvin was playing.

  • David Walsh

    I have to agree with you Michelle! I’ve never seen a crowd litterally thrust forward like that as Plug In Baby kicked it all off.

    And Kev, you’ve made that clear, no worries, i can understand the rain put a few people off, much the same for the other acts that day i noticed too.

    I wish i could have seen a few more of the acts though, i heard Arcade Fire were amazing, but i guess until another time. But Muse have filled my taste for long enough!

  • Kev

    @ David Walsh Arcade Fire was amazing. There was always the danger that by playing so many new songs before the album was released would frustrate and alienate the crowd a little but it didn’t happen. A really special showing. Delighted I caught them. And the fact that it was such a small crowd (in comparison to Jay-Z anyway. I dont think it was actually as small as people have said. It certainly wasn’t massive but…) made it feel all the more intimate and special.

  • Michelle

    Kev asks me if I can read? What are you insinuating here? I will try to shrug off being lambased with such a blatant attack, despite the fact that this discussion was on musical opinion not on calling a person illiterate!