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 know how over the top their shows are, and they are consistently praised for the quality of the their live performances. Tonight was no exception. This was the second of two nights that they performed at Wembley Stadium. The first night got the songs that made me hate the album in the first place.
I had been following the setlists during the tour counting down to this concert. 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. It was the only one that I had seen since to have all of the songs that I hated from the album. Unusually, this could only be a good thing for me.
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, 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.”
“I feel so sorry for (name deleted) right now”
“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? Lead man Matt Bellamy seemed to think so.
“It’s always a great pleasure to gig with you guys, we know you guys are the real fans 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!” (Indeed… guess which user was (name deleted))
The stage itself was ridiculous beyond explanation. Moving platforms, unusual screens, balloons, confetti, streamers, CO2 cannons and a balloon dancer. Not since Pink Floyd has there been a stage set up quite so spectacular.
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.