There are worse ways to spend your 17th birthday than seeing your favourite band perform live at what is one of the most important in their career. I did just that when I saw Muse live at Wembley Stadium in 2007. As far as I was concerned at the time, this was the most important concert ever, because as such a fanboy, I was encapsulated by them. I couldn’t resist splashing out an astronomical (so I thought at the time) £37.50 to see them with my friend Dan.
And I wasn’t alone when it came to enthusiasm. NME devoted an entire issue to these two concerts, which included a CD of songs that Muse would allegedly be listening to before the show. My insistence on this being a real “I WAS THERE” moment. I was too young to go to Live 8, so this was must go show for my generation. As a result, my parents got me a disposable camera to capture the occasion.
I felt privileged to be there, even though I was one of 180,000 people who witnessed Muse perform over those two days. I was also very protective of the band and was really hacked off when their thunder was somewhat stolen. This show was going to be the first concert at the new Wembley Stadium, but the rug was tugged from beneath them when George Michael pipped them to the post a week beforehand.
I was especially chuffed to bits to get a pass into the GOLDEN CIRCLE, although it took for us to get there at 3PM. Even the fact that the event began so early suggested that this was a monumental day, as did the fact that they had an unfathomable three headliners – Rodrigo y Gabriela (amazing), The Streets (out of place) and Dirty Pretty Things (boring). Notably, we drew the short straw, because the other date got Biffy Clyro and My Chemical Romance!
Looking back on the show itself, there was nothing that special about the setlist content (although the emergence of ‘Micro Cuts’ and ‘Unintended’ were a bit unusual), although it was longer than usual. They would normally perform around 17 songs, with very few differences between the shows, but tonight they performed both songs that they would have alternated between at the arena shows, leading to a length of 22 songs.
However there were some striking moments, beginning with the scale of the satellite dishes and screen stage itself which looked overwhelming before they were even switched on. The band had been very secretive about the appearance of the stage, besides there being a revolutionary new kind of screen that the wind could blow through without incident, so that too hyped up the performance as being very special and unique. I don’t know how superior it was to the monstrous screens that U2 had been using on their PopMart tour over a decade beforehand.
They emerged from under the B-Stage in a cloud of smoke and confetti (and it took me an embarrassing amount of time to notice why that they were there, as I looked at an empty stage. What is everyone so excited about? Oh shit! There they are!). As the band performed ‘Blackout’, two trapeze artists performed a routine from under two giant balloons that were unnecessarily called “heliospheres” on the setlist. Bizarrely, looking at the videos now, it doesn’t seem so impressive. For starters, stadium shows have become more ridiculous in general – not only those by Muse. I was blown away by the single blast of flame on the final chord of the night, but since then, they have had pyrotechnics so ridiculous that they accidentally melted part of the Leeds Festival stage in 2011. Perhaps they did have wilder plans shot down. Rumour had it that Muse asked the local council for permission to arrive in jetpacks.
While I would see them several times afterwards, I consider this the point at which my intense fandom of Muse began to fade. It functioned as the finale of the trilogy of my favourite Muse albums (Origin of Symmetry, Absolution and Black Holes and Revolutions), before they took a turn away from my taste with the release of The Resistance. I would however see them twice on their 2010 tour in (Manchester and London).