Muse @ Brisbane Entertainment Centre (5/12/2010)
The venue is well and truly at capacity with the house lights still beaming and a steady mix of generic tunes accompanying the crowd’s waiting game. There’s little to do now but study the stage before us and try to decipher how this simple looking structure could possibly turn into the mesmerising machine we’re expecting.
Three giant square structures reach to the ceiling draped with prints of skyscrapers. Apart from these colourless pillars, the stage is quite plain; there’s no visible drum kit apart from 3 large ceremonial-looking skins to the rear and each stage-end sports a gogo-like podium with solitary microphone. Roadies appear intermittently, each appearance accompanied by a premature roar from the crowd.
When the house lights finally dim, an industrial drone builds to an electronic throb. Initially an epileptic flickering of imagery is spewed across each of the buildings’ four walls, and when this ceases the towers come to life, literally. Glowing human silhouettes now march in unison right to left across each level of the buildings before turning away and disappearing down a flight of stairs to the next. A murmur envelopes the entertainment centre before the crowd suddenly erupts in collective realisation – roughly two-thirds of the way up each of the towers, three familiar silhouettes begin to take shape as the open strains of Uprising begin to ring out.
As the track hits full stride our mysterious music makers are finally unveiled. Each sky scraper’s cloak drops to the floor exposing the real Muse – each member atop a three story high rectangular prism. Matt Bellamy, the guitar wielding leader of this futuristic British invasion, is on tower one to the left and dressed head-to-toe in a genuine mirror ball suit; Christopher Wolstenhome adorns the right hand tower in his relatively low key red and black striped suit; which leaves Dominic Howard, the band’s intergalactic skinsman in the centre. With the three towers now forming six prisms made entirely of giant LED screens we are in for a night of non-stop imagery, dramatics and effects.
A couple of tracks in, and the towers begin to sink. What just a few seconds ago was five meters high has now disappeared into the floor, leaving the boys free to roam the glossy black stage. Each gigantic track is treated to a mind boggling solo, and not just from Bellamy. Although they don’t have the material sparkle of the band’s little big man, Wolsternholme and Howard both more than hold their own with instrumental wizardry.
Crowd pleasers come thick and fast. Undisclosed Desires, Starlight, Super Massive Black Hole and the best cover version of all time, Nina Simone’s Feeling Good, are knocked out at such a pace, it feels like this decade’s ‘Kings Of Big Finishes’ may have forgotten to save something. It doesn’t matter though; everything about the show is awesome in the true sense of the word. Even the heavily criticised United States Of Eurasia, with it’s Queen-esque grandeur, soaring and operatic vocals and dramatics, feels like one of their greatest and most organic achievements. Plug In Baby predictably tears the roof off (along with the very few remaining bums on chairs).
As a band Muse have always been tight, but they seem to be more relaxed than ever. It’s as if they’ve truly become comfortable with the tag of ‘World’s Biggest Band’ and become more comfortable and confident with consistently producing the world’s biggest sound.
The break wedged between the main set and encore is about as un-indulgent as you can imagine and in less than a minute, Muse are back rocking while giant inflatable eyeballs are raining from above. Knights Of Cydonia is the set closer. The track was an instant classic upon release and shows no sign of wearing thin. It sends the crowd buckling into a Wayne’s World/Bohemian Rhapsody moment for several minutes.
Bombastic is a word used to describe Muse by both fans and critics alike. But tonight Muse proved that bombastic isn’t a dirty word.