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Sunday, 22 March 2015

A View From The Back Of The Room: Muse

Muse, Newport Centre

With the numerous gigs and albums that we here at the MoM review it is sometimes hard to muster excitement and anticipation, especially if the gig seems miles off. Luckily Muse did much to to redress this balance, having announced the tour only the week before, this year's Download headliners simultaneously announced their new single Psycho, their new album Clones and this tour of smaller venues. I was one of the lucky few to get a ticket to the Newport show (as was Mr Perry, but that is another story entirely) so with my credit card and I.D (this was a paperless event meaning all entry was linked to the card you paid on, take that touts) we queued outside the venue for the off. I must admit I love the Newport Centre, yes the fact that while queuing you are face to face with the Speedo clad masses frolicking in the pool is still hilarious, but the hall itself is spacious, always looks much bigger than it is allowing for good views on the floor and in the seats, the place where we chose, in order to enjoy the show without loosing enough sweat to fill the pool next door. As we took our seats the lights went down the dubstep blew up and the support band took to the stage.


Bursting forth like a bottle rocket filled with nitroglycerine the Bingley mob immediately made a statement with Move, Shake, Hide which saw frontwoman Becca MacIntyre grooving like a woman possessed the drums and guitar of her brothers Josh (drums) and Sam (guitar) merging brilliantly with the Jack and Will Bottomley on guitar and bass respectively to create a fractious, aggressive, melodic and frankly mad sound that is sort of Paramore meets At The Drive In melding punk, hardcore and swaggering rock with off-kilter rhythms and crazy guitar wig-outs. The band are all very visual jumping and rocking out to tracks like Weird & Wonderful, Captivate You and the harsh, visceral punk of Born Young And Free. However it is Becca that is the most captivating and watch-able member of the band, she never stands still pulling shapes galore letting the music take over her every move and her voice is fantastic from the strength in her clean singing (very Haley Williams) and the power of her growls. A perfect opener for a band like Muse, dirty, grungy and naturally gifted, very good indeed. 8/10


So the stage was stripped back with a solitary amp & head, drum riser, keyboad/iMac and topped by a lighting rig. Simplistic but a true understatement to what was about to happen, so lights down intro on and the three men arrived on stage Dominic Howard behind the kit, Chris Wolstenholme stage left with his light up bass, that resembled a lightsaber in the dark and then the mad Martian himself Matt Bellamy stage right his guitar strapped tight and then they launched into new track Psycho which is a stomping glam rock riff, reminiscent of Depeche Mode's Personal Jesus, that kicks things off in rocking style before Wolstenholme led Futurism with lead bass and cool demeanour allowing Bellamy make his guitar squeal while he wails with his unique voice. There was no messing between the songs, Bellamy is quiet and reserved without the music but turns into a rock god when they let the music do the talking as they slam into Bliss which released the Hullaballoons for the first time since 2011 (Mr and M The only real talking came in the shape of Bellamy reminiscing about the first time he came to the Newport Centre to watch Korn and Limp Bizkit, but after that burst of chat it was music time again with Interlude bubbling up into Hysteria which got the first mass jump-along, which was amazing to watch as the band thrashed out one of their biggest hits, no time to rest either as the startling light show continued through every song giving a massive visual accompaniment to the virtuosistic musicianship and frenetic performance of the band. No time to rest as Plug In Baby was next with it's guitar hero intro really showing Bellamy's talent as a guitarist, however Wolstenholme and Howard are no slouches either providing the band's sledgehammer rhythms.

I was actually surprised how heavy Muse are live and had a dorky grin on face when they ran through Assassin from my favourite album Black Holes & Revelations and then more mass jumping to Stockholm Syndrome on this hit filled set that just didn't seem to slow at all. The punky Agitated being the final track as a trio as Morgan Nicholls crept on stage behind the samples and keys for the uplifting Starlight (a song that has a special place in my heart) the BH&R tracks continued with the industrial-tinged, funky as hell Supermassive Blackhole with the funk continuing on the politically rallying part Floydian, part Orwellian Uprising which was strung out for the band to rock out at the end. A brief restbite as Chris took up the harmonica for their rendition of Ennio Morricone's Man With The Harmonica from Once Upon A Time In The West and yes you guessed it this led into set ender and mother of all Sci-Fi Western epics with Knights Of Cydonia a song that still rocks like a bastard! Having been aurally and visually assaulted for the past hour and a bit we took a collective breath and then back on stage for Unnatural Selection the finest track Queen never wrote which got everyone singing along (as did most of the set), the irony of Time Is Running Out was not lost on your writer and again made everyone scream at the top of their lungs. So what was left? A few goodbyes and then the last song, bravely they chose new song Reapers which was an inspired choice as this song is excellent with a hard rock riffage and a fleet fingered solo to round it off means that I have a lot of expectation for Clones when it's eventually released. As for a live showing Muse were stunning and if they play this set at Download they will show every person in that field that they can be as heavy as any metal band out there, a massive set, from a behemoth of a band in a gorgeously intimate setting. 10/10          


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