This blog post was originally written in 2011, and it chronicled Muse’s infamous ‘Second Night Syndrome’ – it seemed that whenever Muse performed two shows at one venue, that the second night would be superior. Muse’s two 2010 dates at Wembley Stadium are the defining example, and years on, it is still reflected upon by fans as a massive crime.
Looking at this now makes me smile, not only out of smugness due to being able to say that I was there, but because it comes across now as a huge overreaction. Only six songs differed between the two shows, and as far as many Muse followers were concerned, these were their worst and best shows ever. However, looking at the setlist today, as well as the obscurity-laden Psycho Tour sets, suggests that Muse knew exactly what they were doing, thus making them total dicks.
How conscious do you think that Muse were of their ridiculous choices? Comment below. If you don’t know what those choices were, read on…
MUSE, Wembley Stadium (11/09/2010)
Utter the words ‘REAL FANS’ to a Muse fan that wasn’t at this show, and you may well get punched. Anyone who knows my taste in music, knows how big a fan I am of Muse. I had seen them live more times than I have any other band. This show was number five, out of seven.
However, I was heartbroken by their latest album. After a trilogy of albums that are amongst my personal favourites, 2009’s The Resistance was a massive disappointment. Look at a Muse forum, and you might see the words ‘sold-out’ a lot. A nadir was reached when they released a diabolical track for a Twilight film. Liking Muse didn’t seem quite so dignified anymore.
Having seen them four times, I knew how over the top their shows were, and that they are consistently praised for the quality of the their live performances. September 11th 2011 was of no exception. This was the second of two nights that they performed at Wembley Stadium. The first setlist got a few pretty limp choices, and tracks that were responsible for my dislike of the Resistance era – ‘I Belong to You’, ‘Neutron Star Collision’ and the unusual choice to dig up ‘Soldier’s Poem’. Having heard about the hatred for the first night’s setlist, I bizarrely got a little more excited. Throughout the tour there were a lot of staple tracks and a few good and bad ones that they alternated between shows. Those who attended the first night were presented with a diabolical setlist. The first night was the only setlist that I had seen since to have all of the songs that I hated the album for.
Would this mean that the second night would be far superior? As it turned out, YES.
For the night that I attended, they were all dropped, and made way for a lot of surprises. As I take you through the show, I’ll let you see some of the quotes from the forum at Muselive.com, by those who went to other shows on the tour, who were following it via Twitter and smug texts. I’ve made the quotes anonymous due to a death threat from a user. I’ve put the track titles in bold, just to rub it in a bit more. Oh, and there is some explicit content. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
The set opened conventionally, with two songs that appeared at every show on the tour, but then a certain three songs came up.
MK Ultra is a unanimous favourite from their latest album that was rarely played during the tour. Map of the Problematique is a single that likewise was being played increasingly rarely. Bliss is a single released nine years ago that was also being played less and less. If it was ever played, it was usually near the end of the show. By this point, people knew this show was something special.
“Based on one song. Wow. Fucking wow.”
“MK Ultra? Well it’s better than yesterday already.”
“What the fuck Muse? Bliss? This early? What’s wrong with you?”
Envious fans became relieved when the more conventional tracks Guiding Light and Hysteria returned (“GL. Back to normal.”). But then came Citizen Erased, the seven-minute Holy Grail that instantly ‘makes’ a Muse show. If one show gets it and another doesn’t prepare for some very angry fans. This was exactly what happened.
“Imma kill the next Wembley goer I see”
“I’m actually feeling like crying”
“…OK NOW I’m getting a little annoyed”
Again, things returned to normal. For one song anyway (United States of Eurasia). Then came a little ditty called Ruled by Secrecy. This is an album track from their acclaimed 2003 album Absolution. It had made a single appearance on the tour in the 137 dates before tonight. Nobody had seen it coming, and nobody who was following the setlist was particularly jolly about it.
“RULED BY FUCKING SECRECY”
“WTF!!!! This is going to be the best setlist of the tour.”
“…let’s hope they don’t get B&H, Unnatural Selection and Take A Bow I guess”
In response to the spiteful final quote, that night went on to get two out of those three. From then on, the set was conventional, but Muse weren’t done being cruel. This show had been the first Wembley show to be announced on this tour. The first night was added second after this show had sold out (or almost sold out). Does that make those who got tickets first more devoted? Before playing Starlight, lead man Matt Bellamy seemed to think so.
“It’s always a great pleasure to gig with you guys, we know you guys are a real fan tonight.” – Matt Bellamy
“What the fuck”
“Thanks Matt, way to make us feel wanted”
“What a cunt.”
“matt’s just being a biotch”
“I payed 3 times for 3 gigs, something like 180 euros going straight into Muse’s pocket this year. What the f*ck am I if I’m not a “real fan”? Do I attend everything single of their gig? Do I have to cancel everything here, book a train, get 2 nights in a London hotel and attend that fc*king gig tonight to deserve being called a “real fan”? F*ck you Matt!”
The stage itself was ridiculous beyond explanation. Moving platforms, unusual screens, balloons, confetti, streamers, CO2 cannons and a balloon dancer.
Those who had been to both shows agreed that tonight had a more intense performance and that the bands had put in more effort. In retrospect, I don’t know if I would have felt so great after this show had all of the setlists been of this quality, because in this instance I felt privileged to have been at what was arguably the greatest show that they performed on this tour. Still, I had been won over again, and felt a bit stupid for losing faith in the first place.