Muse at The O2 on the 3rd of November 2012
As Muse trudged backed into town as part of ‘The 2nd Law’ tour, the wider Irish music community was still a bit flummoxed and bewildered at what was to come. A large group of critics and public alike have shunned the newest release, as Muse strayed towards a more defined melody and funk sound on their quest for further music domination. This has left us wondering will their shows ever recreate the intensity and passion that Muse fans have come so accustomed to over the years. An air of anticipation and nervousness litters the room as we lie in wait for this ‘new sound’ of Muse to control and dictate the next hour of the evening.
From the outset, Muse blast us with an intro segment full of light, vibrancy and vigour. L.E.D. screens and flashing instruments syncronise effortlessly with the wall of sound being created by Matt Bellamy and co. By the time that Super Massive Black Hole comes in, only 3 songs into the set, the crowd has been stunned with a visual and sonic onslaught of Goliath proportions. During this song, a huge lighting/LED rig begins to lower itself from the rafters in The O2. It forms an upside down pyramid above the bands head and darts and projects light across the smokey air. This pyramid would then continue for the whole gig to morph and change as each song progresses, with each stage of change, it reveals new layers and a new structure – visually stunning.
To get this stage show into some sort of fathomable context, try and imagine the new Tron meets Star Wars meets LSD. The vast O2 stage is littered by screens and LED’s that beam lights from every angle. The mass of lights also play their part as they strobe the crowd, flanked by an army of piercing laser beams. It sounds ridiculous right? Well it was beyond ridiculous. All of this is under the watchful eye of 11, as far as I could count, camera men who film the proceedings just so the crowd can feel more a part of the show. It’s not an over exaggeration that this is the finest lighting and stage set up that Ireland has even seen, truly mind-blowing.
Panic Station is the first clear nod to this clean funky and non-distortion ridden ‘new sound’ with thundering funk bass reverberating throughout the crowd and although very different to the rest of the set, sits perfectly in this behemothic production. The presence of Resistance, Animals and the experimental drum and bass jam comes at the perfect time as the crowd catches their breadth. Sunburn and Host finish off what was to be only the first half of this marathon adventure of all things Muse. It was at this point that everyone turned to their friend and thought “oh holy fuck” at what had come, and more importantly, what was still to come.
A strong second half began with Time Is Running Out, a song that soars when played live. It also helps when the brimming crowd goes as buck-bloody-wild as the light show on view. The chemistry between the band is scarily in-sync as Bellamy marauds across the stage with his flamboyant nature, backed by a dominant Wolstenholme and a jumpsuit/onesie wearing Howard. It’s hard to believe the sound this band can omit as just a three-piece – it’s positively baffling.
The coupling of Plug In Baby and Stockholm Syndrome hark back to the harder and more anthemic Muse of the past, while also having this elite lighting show in tandem. This coupling of songs was to be the best of the night as both songs power was mirrored by the reaction of the crowd. As much as the lights synced perfectly with the music throughout the night, the crowd all more purposely vibed and flowed off the effectual high notes of Matt Bellamy.
The encore, like all that had preceded it, continued to astonish, as the pyramid took shape again to show a short film with some beautiful cinematography and visuals used throughout. The spectacle itself was stunning. Not your average interval/encore as the crowd sat back in awe of all on stage – so inventive, so new, so Muse.
Uprising and Knights of Cydonia feature as the first encore with the latter showcasing Bellamy’s almost self harmonising vocal. Further proof and testament to a band that can do no wrong. Just as the crowd think this mammoth set has ended, they return once more from the darkness of The O2 to Starlight. An astonishing set is finished off with Survival as the crowd remain stuck in place in shock and awe of what has taken place over the last 2 hours.
You need several things for a good concert; engaging music, pitch-perfect singing, crowd acceptance, responsive lights and great musicianship. Throw in a heap load of head-banging and you’ve got yourself one of the finest gigs to grace our humble shores in a long, long time. Muse, it’s settled – you win.
Muse Photo Gallery
Photos: Kieran Frost