Sunday, 23 June 2019

Recent Gigs Part One: Muse at Ashton Gate


In the last 6 months I've seen some outstanding live performances from The Dandy Warhols, Sleeper, The Supernaturals and The Skids and now, over the next couple of posts, I'm going to talk about a couple more   -  two very different but equally inspiring gig experiences. In my usual haphazard way I'm going to start with the most recent one, the mighty Muse at Bristol's Ashton Gate on the 5th of June. ( Although the tour poster above omits this date it did really happen. I think. Or was it a simulation? ) Sarah and I saw Muse on their Drones World Tour a couple of years ago at London's O2 Arena and were absolutely knocked out by them so, when they turned up almost in our backyard, we had to head to Brizzle to see what latest insanity Matt Bellamy and friends had cooked up...


After a remarkably hassle-free trip down to Bristol and miraculously securing on-street parking only a 10-minute walk from the venue we headed into the home of Bristol City football club, alongside about 30,000 other fans. As ever I had to virtually drag Sarah to see the support band, in this case guitarist Tom Morello of Rage Against The Machine fame. ( We'd unfortunately missed first band Pale Waves who must have been on stage super early. ) Literally the second we walked into the stadium Morello kick-started that iconic riff to the wonderfully-shouty Killing In The Name Of. Perfect timing! I'd wondered how Morello would come across as a front-man but we didn't really get to find out as he left the vocals on this song to a "choir" from Bristol activist group Acorn who didn't seem to know the words but were certainly enthusiastic. The whole stadium ( apart from Sarah, of course ) took up the "Fuck you, I won't do what you told me!" chant while Tom shredded his guitar and bounced around the stage like a right-on Tigger. We then realised we'd missed most of the set as he finished with a cover of Lennon's Power To The People, again letting the crowd handle the majority of the singing. Tasty while it lasted but a slightly under-nourishing starter to the main course...


A huge roar heralded Muse's arrival as they took to the stage and proceeded to smash their way into ace new song Algorithm in all its Blade Runner-style synth-pop glory. Then it was straight into another ( great ) song from the new album as a troupe of neon-suit-wearing trombonists joined them for a stomping rendition of Pressure ( it was that kind of a gig! ) and ran down the runway at the centre of the stadium...


After the choreographed drones of the last tour, Muse seemed to have gone for a more human, performance-based experience this time ( I said "seemed" ) as they frequently brought out dancers and extra musicians to augment their own performance. ( If any of the approximately two and a half people who still read this 'ere blog are planning to see the Muse tour and would prefer not to be seriously SPOILER-ed by this review, well, I'd look away now. This was a Public Service Announcement. With guitar and trombone. ) As well as the trombonists there were also some Sith / Ninja-type characters with glowing staffs ( lightsabres? ) and a group of hazmat-suit-wearing types who were lowered down above the stage while images on the screen behind made them look like germs being attacked by antibodies. You might just glimpse the latter if you squint at the next photo.


Meanwhile, the music was fantastic. After a few more songs from the last two albums the band started to wheel out the big guns and the crowd went nuts as the twisty-turny guitar licks of Plug In Baby and the space-rock of Supermassive Black Hole ( complete with Close Encounters intro ) rolled over us. For the wonderful, gospel-flavoured  Dig Down ( another instant classic from Simulation Theory ) they brought out a choir of Daft Punk-esque cyborgs to elevate the choruses and virtually the whole stadium. ( Interestingly, our daughter Sophie's former flat-mate is a member of a Bristol-based choir and had sung with Take That at the same venue the week before. This was obviously an amazing experience for her... except the choir hadn't been paid. They hadn't been paid by one of the most successful music acts to come out of this country who were clearly raking in the cash on their latest tour. Appalling behaviour from the ageing boy-band... )


Anyway, back to the boys from  Mars    Devon. There was a theme throughout the performance of an artificial creature being created  -  the molecules and cells on the video screens became more and more complex, building into skeletons, various animatronic incarnations of a cyborg were wheeled out onto the stage, Matt Bellamy sang Hamlet-like to a Terminator head, and then finally this terrifying giant puppet reared up behind the band...



It was a typically ludicrous but wonderful moment of excess from a band who continually pull out all the stops to give their fans a literally larger-than-life show. The music was suitably epic, with the newer, synth-heavy material sounding fantastic ( and the sound was mostly excellent for an outdoor gig ),culminating of course in the Spaghetti Western Metal of Knights Of Cydonia and an explosion of confetti and streamers showering over the crowd. It goes without saying that Muse are excellent musicians and know exactly what their fans want in terms of songs and spectacle  -  they certainly delivered in Bristol!







2 comments:

That Baldy Fella said...

I saw the show at the London Arena - absolutely bloody loved it! Proper stadium rock

cerebus660 said...

Cool! Glad you enjoyed it. Muse are such a great live band. I'm not usually keen on huge stadium gigs ( apart from The Boss, of course ) but Muse really put on an awesome show. They've added a few more dates later in the year and I'm very tempted to see them again, bank balance permitting...

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