Sunday, January 28, 2007

The Time Has Come To Make Things Right

Muse – Live at the Hordern Pavilion, Sydney, 23rd January

And so begins the chronicle of my week of awesomeness. I was a little leery of seeing Muse; while on one hand I've attended two of their concerts in the past and both of them were supurb, on the other hand I was not too impressed with the big shit that Matt Bellamy and co took in my ipod earlier this year so I was prepared for potential disappointment.

Although my lovely companion and I were beset by numerous pifalls and terrors on our way to the concert venue, involving burst water mains blocking off major thoroughfares, tight transportation connection times and mixed drinks of highly variable alcohol content, we arrived with about half an hour to spare before the main act started (fortuitously completely missing the opening act).

Matt Bellamy Fashion Watch:

Matt wore a red tracksuit with white stripes. He's also had a haircut so that he looks like a dorky indie rock guy as he did on the Origin of Symmetry tour. His haircut on the last tour was much cooler.

Take a Bow
Map of the Problematique

They opened with two of the better tracks from the new album. The pit was rough but very appreciative, even of the new songs. 'Take a Bow's intense build and release is custom made for arena rock spectacle.

Butterflies and Hurricanes
Supermassive Black Hole
New Born

A trio of popular and catchy singles got the crowd well and worked up. They've added a cool extended break down to 'Butterflies and Hurricanes', and 'New Born' was the same version as on the last tour, with Matt playing an extended feedback solo bridging the intro and the first appearance of that awesome main riff, just to crank the anticipation up.

Forced In
Feeling Good

After all those rock out songs the audience probably looked a bit worn out so it was on to a few mellow 'wave your hands in the air' tracks. 'Starlight' and 'Hoodoo' are new songs and worked a lot better live than on the album. 'Forced In' and 'Feeling Good' are random older tracks and were most welcome surprises, at least for me. 'Forced In' was performed without vocals in front of video screens displaying images of fire (see figure 1). Very cool and moody. During 'Bliss' they released the big confetti filled balloons like at the end of their set on the last tour. Not as fun as at the Auckland show, and there's nothing grosser than being squashed up against a greasy sweaty munter with red confetti stuck all over his shirtless torso.


Bleh. Don't like this song, but Muse are such a powerful live act that they can inject even their more average songs with undeserved energy.

Time is Running Out
Plug in Baby

And two big anthemic singles to close out the set. By the end of these songs it was fair to say that I was completely fucking wasted from my hour in the moshpit. I got a bit of a rest at this point but it wasn't over just yet...

First Encore:
Soldiers Poem

A nice acoustic interlude from the new album. For some reason seeing and hearing it live made me finally 'get' the song. Damn you Muse for giving me new appreciation for an album that I bagged!

Stockholm Syndrome

And just in case there was anyone left in the pit with an ounce of energy left they belt out their two most hard rocking songs back to back. Total insanity ensues.

Second Encore:
Knights of Cydonia

And they finished with their most recent single. I thought this one would go off better (the 'No one's going to take me alive' sing along section is pure calculated live performance gold) but maybe the crowd was just too worn out to get into it.

After that it was just a long wait for a taxi in the rain with a pair of the saddest (and drunkest and tackiest) wannabe groupies I've ever encountered, all the while coughing my guts out on account of the nasty cold I caught.

Muse are the anti-Placebo. Placebo can release a pretty good album and then proceed to retroactively ruin it with an incredibly lackluster live performance. Muse can release a total stinker but walk out on stage and belt the songs out with such enthusiasm (Dom had a look on his face while smashing the shit out of his kit during 'Knights of Cydonia' that can only be described as total joy), flair and virtuosity as to completely change my opinion of the album, if only for the duration of the concert.

I think the Auckland concert on the Absolution tour was better, as they played a little more random stuff whereas this time they mostly stuck to their singles and tracks off the new album. Plus the energy of the crowd there was more positive and less muntery. But those are not serious complaints, it was still a fucking awesome concert. And yet it was only the first leg of my long weekend of awesomeness, over the next couple of days, things were only going to get better!

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