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?