Muse @ Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne (15/11/2007)
The Melbourne leg of the Muse world tour was a perfect balance of opposites. From the moment Muse announced a stadium tour hot on the heels of their christening of Wembley stadium, Australian fans knew that they were in for a very special night.
Opening the night at the sound-challenged Rod Laver Arena (albeit not as disappointing on tonight) was support band The Checks, which signified the first of the opposites of the night. Despite approaching the performance with an open mind, there was little to actually engage the interest of the audience.
The Checks, to be honest, should be applauded for their effort in trying to engage the audience – utilising tactics from crazy robot dancing, rocking out madly and even (shock horror) talking to the audience. The one thing that was missing from their performance, without being totally horrible to them, was a good performance. There were moments where promise of a highly entertaining potential showed through – all that was missing was a consistent link between these moments into a solid half hour set, which should come with time. Granted, it would have also been quite daunting to support a band of Muse’s calibre, and they were definitely better then the previous support on Muse’s tour earlier this year.
Muse took to stage almost an hour later, opening with ‘Take a Bow’. What the boys lack in physical size (perhaps with the exception of bassist Chris Wolstenholme), they more than made up for in their music, with most, if not all fans in the arena on their feet before the end of the opener.
Working through an impressive – if not entirely what fans expected – setlist including ‘Micro Cuts’, ‘Soldier’s Poem’, ‘Map of the Problematique’ as well as Absolution b-side single ‘Fury’ (to the stunned silence of most of the audience), Muse created a surreal atmosphere of elegance, with Bellamy’s angelic vocals soaring through the stadium one moment, only to be countered with the trademark, almost demonic riffs in favourites such as ‘Time is Running Out’, ‘Stockholm Syndrome’, ‘Plug in Baby’ and of course ‘New Born’, which sent the already hyped-up crowds into a new level of delirium.
Typical of frontman Matt Bellamy, his performance consisted of all play and no talk, leaving the rare comment or two directed to the crowd to be addressed by drummer Dominic Howard; perhaps to make up for the fact that Dom can’t sing.
The first part of the performance was closed with a Dead Star/In Your World outro teaser, a slight disappointment to fans who were hoping to hear the named tracks. Other sorely missed numbers (despite numerous appeals from the audience) were ‘Citizen Erased’ and ‘Sunburn’, as Muse had kept in with their tradition of altering each setlist for each live performance (yes, yours truly was very excited after the Perth review).
Muse returned to stage after a very short exit, much to the delight of the crowd, of whom they had already wowed with yet again another near-perfect performance, awesome stage lighting and basically had fulfilled their promise to fans of an unforgettable live stadium show. The closing track of the night was the masterpiece ‘Knights of Cydonia’, which just about incited a riot (of the mosh pit variety) to which Muse responded in kind. Bassist Chris Wolstenholme’s head looked as if it was about to detach from his neck. So epic was his beat-keeping head swinging. The band left the stage with Dom shouting out “thank you Melbourne! You guys are absolutely awesome” (thanks boys, but I’m sure you say that to all the fans).
Take a Bow , Muse. From the elation on the faces of the fans, Muse are more then welcome to return to our shores and perform for us again.
Thanks to Matthew Wagg for the photos on the night!