Evening News Arena, Manchester on 29 November 2003
Reviewed by Andreas on 10th January 2004
"I declare this an emergency!" Matt Bellamy shouts to the music of "Apocalypse Please", the opening song of Muse's set on this rather drab winter night. The sound is booming, the fans cheering and the atmosphere is of another world. However, we had all been bored to tears just minutes earlier.
Kinesis were boring in Manchester. They also suffer from crap sound, so all in all not a very good experience. Their tripe rock isn't very revolutionary, although they probably want it to be, with all their slogans and such. Well... At least they still look good, unlike the band they blatantly copied, the Manic Street Preachers. Sorry guys, write some better songs.
While I don't mind Elbow as such, they do make pleasant music for those rainy days and whatnot, their brand of ultra-depressing acoustically driven poprock doesn't work in an arena setting. Elbow just didn't manage to inject the type of warmth they're capable of, I think. However, songs like "Red" and "New born" are gorgeous, and strive towards perfection as far as pop songwriting is concerned.
When Kinesis and Elbow are finally done, the tension in the room rises swiftly. The lights come on, the silhouettes of flying people are displayed, and the drums start the somber intro to "Apocalypse Please". Here on out, there is hardly any break or relief, the crowd is ecstatic, and the band jump around like little kids. You rarely see bands that are this fond of playing live, and it brightens the atmosphere even more than the songs do. And oh, what songs. It's surprising to see how many singles/minor hits Muse have had, and they only play two songs off of debut album "Showbiz", the focus remaining on new album "Absolution". Songs like "Hysteria", "Time is Running Out" and "Stockholm Syndrome" hit hard and well, and display just how well Muse can rock out, while "Endlessly" and encore number "Blackout" (cue huge white balloons being thrown out to the audience) show how they can do the tender, melancholic pop song as well.
The band has a much larger production on this tour, video screens, pre-recorded violins, lots of cameras etc. The sound is brilliant, the lights well coordinated, the whole package is just perfect. This is particularly well shown during my personal favourite, "Butterflies and Hurricanes", where the huge screen shows infra-red footage of an orchestra of some sorts while the strings make the song utterly epic and crushingly brilliant. The set just goes to show how many singles and minor hits Muse have had, how good they are at playing and how brilliant they are at writing songs. Most songs tonight get the sing-along treatment, especially older songs like "Plug-In Baby", "Bliss" and "Muscle Museum", but every song is well received by the rather grateful-looking audience.
Through the explosive set we're given on this night, Muse show themselves as masters of epic, melancholic rock. I want more, don't you? Just wish they'd choose better opening bands next time
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