Tuesday 30 May 2017

Review: Sci-fi rock from Devon’s deviants

Rock: Muse, 3Arena, Dublin

The singer of British rock band Muse, Matthew Bellamy (L) performs on stage on October 2, 2012 at the Olympia concert hall in Paris. THOMAS SAMSON/AFP/GettyImages)
The singer of British rock band Muse, Matthew Bellamy (L) performs on stage on October 2, 2012 at the Olympia concert hall in Paris. THOMAS SAMSON/AFP/GettyImages)
Eamon Sweeney

Eamon Sweeney

The first time Muse stepped onto an Irish stage, they were supporting Elastica in the Temple Bar Music Centre in 2000. It is an understatement to say they've come a long way.

The first ladies of Britpop split up long ago, but Muse have become so big they filled in for U2 at Glastonbury in 2010 after Bono picked up a back injury.

The Devon trio, led by Kate Hudson's former husband Matt Bellamy, are now one of the biggest arena bands in the world. They return to Glastonbury's Worthy Farm in June alongside an all-British headlining cast of Adele and Coldplay.

A 3Arena show, then, is as intimate as it gets for Muse, and they seize the opportunity to present a highly ambitious and very audacious stage show.

Their latest album Drones is another instalment from Bellamy's dystopian world view, fusing influences and inspiration from Queen, Pink Floyd, Black Sabbath and George Orwell.

They perform in the round alongside huge screens. Visuals are also projected onto a gigantic transparent curtain, which has distinct echoes of U2's recent tour.

Despite their global success and sold-out world tours, Muse remain a little bit of a Marmite act. What makes them such a compelling live proposition is behind all the conspiracy theories, flashing lights and occasional bursts of outrageous pretentiousness, they're ultimately a kick-ass rock 'n' roll band.

From the opening number Psycho to the epic curtain closer Knights of Cydonia, Matt, Dominic and Chris pump out a succession of molten guitar riffs, rollicking bass lines and thunderous drumming.

Not everything is as succinct, punchy or effective. The Globalist and Take A Bow stray dangerously into prog rock hell to the point they actually could be the work of a Muse parody act.

Yet for the most part they're terrifically tight. Their 2012 performance in this venue still shades it as a slightly better show, as it featured a jaw-dropping mock stock exchange and all sorts of other bells and whistles, but the demonic rockers from Devon still have it in spades.

Expect them to be wowing the masses at Glastonbury, which you can enjoy from the dry comfort of your living room.

Irish Independent

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