The five steps of Muse

This week sees the release of the new Muse album, their fifth, entitled ‘The Resistance’. I’ve not yet listened to it, so I can’t write about it yet, but I am interested in the band’s progression from fresh-faced Radiohead rip-offs to VMA playin’, Stadium-sell-outin’ multi millionaire crazy people. I’ve seen Muse five times, and here are the stories of each.

1. Glastonbury Festival, June 1999

They played the new band tent, which was a long, long trek from where we were camped. Having heard ‘Uno’ on the radio, we were intrigued. We made the journey, losing two or three good men on the way – to ice cream vans, not death – and the band promptly opened with ‘Uno’. The rest of the songs all sounded the same, and we all left very unimpressed. Also, they played ‘Instant Messenger’, a song that’s both instantly forgettable, and a spiritual forebearer for both ‘LOL Smiley Face’ and the band LMFAO. Not a good thing. “Hah,” I said on the walk back to the Pyramid Stage, “I don’t imagine we’ll hear any more of these losers.”

2. London ULU, February 2000

Alright, so I went to see them again because Soulwax were supporting. And guess what? Somewhere after ‘Showbiz’ came out, Muse became amazing. They played a couple of new songs, including a Nina Simone cover, and a little song called ‘Plug In Baby’, which Matt Bellamy would later say is about genetically engineered puppies. The band was pretty unrecognizable from those I saw the previous summer. I was well and truly converted.

[Note: At that year’s Reading Festival, I foolishly chose to see Oasis headline the main stage, rather than Muse on the second stage. The reason: that week there was a strong rumour that Oasis were about to break up, and I wanted to catch them at least once before they did. Unfortunately, they somehow dragged themselves through another nine years, and I missed what I’m sure was a much better show in the tent.]

3. London Brixton Academy, May 2001

This one was cool. I received a promo copy of ‘Origin of Symmetry’ a few weeks earlier, and frankly, I played it to the point where the ink was dripping off the compact disc. Their PR guy called me the day of the show – about a week before the album came out – to say there was a single spot on the guest list for me, so I hurried along, alone, to south London. The Cooper Temple Clause played first, and I like them, so it was fun. Then Muse came out and began with ‘Citizen Erased’, an amazing song that is eight minutes long, and at that point, hardly anyone had heard. But I loved it. At the end, during ‘Bliss’, some fat guy gave me a hug as the giant balloons dropped from the rafters.

4. Orlando, December 2004

Oh, look, I’m living in the United States now! This was on the ‘Absolution’ tour, and as I remember, we drove from Tallahassee to Gainesville, to pick up my sister, and then on to Orlando, but got stuck with the worst traffic in history. Made it to the gig just in time to miss support band The Exit, but given that I have never heard of them, I can live with that. The set was rather new-album heavy (not a surprise) but hearing ‘Butterflies and Hurricanes’ live gave me butterflies sans hurricanes.

5. Jacksonville, April 2005

This gig was at a very nice, fancy looking newly renovated club in a strip mall. Openers on this occasion were a little band called Razorlight, who only had one album out at that point, and didn’t play ‘Dalston’ so I was mad at them. Muse played a pretty similar set to the one a few months earlier, but the fact they had RETURNED to Florida after only four months was a big deal. A couple of songs that wound up on ‘Black Holes and Revelations’ were played, but none of them did much for me that day.

So those are the five times I’ve been to see them live. The last album didn’t wow me too much, and I haven’t really been back to it since then. I thought it took itself a little too seriously – the sense of fun was missing from previous work. But then, the ‘Knights of Cydonia’ video addressed that particular concern of mine.

Can’t wait to hear ‘The Resistance’ – apparently there’s a clarinet solo?

[download Muse - Citizen Erased (live)]


MasterAir said...

I've seen Muse a similar number of times, first time at Reading Festival in 2000, most recently at Wembley Stadium in 07. They certainly know how to do big and bombastic and they certainly can't be called Radiohead lite any more. The Wembley gig was amongst the best shows I've ever seen, especially in terms of the global composition with the set-list, lights/visuals, sounds. Muse have grown into one of the best live bands around in my opinion. I'm looking forward to the new LP.


Anonymous said...

Yeah,there's a clarinet solo in the song I belong to you / Mon coeur s'ouvre a ta voix.

Jim said...

I firmly believe that if you hug a fat bloke - a stranger, fat pals don't count - it's been a good gig. I also believe the only other time that hugging fat strange men is when your team scores a goal. If it's a crucial goal you should seek out a fat man to hug, it's the unwritten rules of life.

Adrian said...

Speaking of Muse did you see their comments regarding file sharing.

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