December 14, 2009

Music Resolution 2009 – Muse, Liverpool Echo Arena, 5th November

Join me and my New Year’s Resolution to go to at least one gig every month of 2009.

I have a confession. Well, less a confession, more a statement which many many agree with, yet strangely it feels somewhat wrong to admit to it. Y’see, I really don’t like ‘United States Of Eurasia’. The one off the new Muse album which sounds like Queen. And when I say it sounds like Queen I mean they excavated Freddie Mercury’s corpse, extracted stem cells, injected them into mice and got those mice to write ‘United States Of Eurasia’.

It isn’t the worst Muse song, and it’s not the worst Muse song to get played at the Echo (echo echo) arena, an honour which falls to ‘Guiding Light’. But ‘…Eurasia’ really isn’t very good. Naturally then it has the best light show and visuals.

This only captures a fraction of the lasers involved – full gallery—-PHOTOS

You see, Muse live isn’t just about the music (man), it has always been about the visuals. Crack out that copy of their debut Showbiz and look in the booklet inside. There in the centre is the band as youthful newbies, just starting out. Look at how huge their banner is. No band just starting out ever had such a big banner. The sense of the ridiculous and enormous, the sort of attitude which makes Muse the Dubai of the music world, has always been there. So a space like the Echo (echo echo) arena, shiny, new and big, was always going to be filled by the most insane lights and visuals Muse could find. ‘…Eurasia’ had a brilliant mock up of the world map as divided into Eurasia, Eastasia and Oceania as dictated by Orwell (albeit managing to attribute Britain and Ireland to Eurasia, not Oceania as they should be), along with swooping lights, flashing words, lasers, sharks, badgers and the strange sense that actually the whole song is rather enjoyable.

And then snap back to reality and it isn’t.

It kind of sums up Muse live. An entire superstructure which is extremely enjoyable in the moment, even when individual elements aren’t actually all that good. Except ‘Guiding Light’ which was crap at the time too.

Muse’s show currently consists of three massive, rotating, video screen covered pillars. Like “St Simeon”: but with musical instruments. The comparisons with Spinal Tap are so obvious (apart from the flawless functioning of the pillars) that you can only suspect that Muse know the whole thing is mad. Whilst Fever Ray used lasers to create a claustrophobic and intense atmosphere, Muse use lasers because they are big, bright and there. Boys with toys, it works because the toys are really cool.


Oh, and the songs are mostly really very good too. Not all the new album is a write off like ‘…Eurasia’ and ‘Guiding Light’ – ‘Uprising’’s mix of ‘Dr Who’ and Goldfrapp is a slinky treat and ‘Unnatural Selection’ is a heavy-arsed mother of a tune. And as a special treat for being so good we even got a piano version of ‘Cave’, although as ever it was a case of one song off the first album and no more. Perhaps the lasers and visuals don’t like the first album.

There’s surprisingly little one can say about Muse live that hasn’t already been said (although I defy anyone to find another Muse review which references St Simeon). The daftness, the deftness and the spectacle of it is to be expected. They’d have to come back with a stripped down acoustic show to truly shock, but in all honest where would the fun be in that?

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