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Review: Muse Gig at Wembley Stadium

Published 22 September 2010

They, will, not, force us! They will stop degrading us!’ If the mass chanting was anything to go by, an unwitting listener may just have thought this was a rebel protest, with swathes looking to fight against corrupt governments or tear down a dictatorship.

However it was anything but. This was a mass sing-along of ‘Uprising’ by Muse at Wembley Stadium. If ever a venue was built for a band, Wembley was made for Muse. The UK rockers ended the European leg of their Resistance tour with a sell-out two nights at the Stadium.

Having gone on Saturday, the band were supported by I Am Arrows, White Lies and Biffy Clyro – and I couldn’t help feel that I had drawn the short straw support act-wise, what with White Rabbit, The Big Pink and Lily Allen gracing the stage for the penultimate Wembley gig on Friday. That said, the crowd went absolutely wild for Biffy Clyro (and their lead singer’s somewhat bare bottom – who I’d advise to pull up his jeans next time he’s on stage!) Bubbles proved a big crowd-pleaser for Biffy Clyro, and I Am Arrows performed a pleasant cover of Ace of Spades’ ‘Everybody Wants To Rule The World.

Support acts aside, the piece d’Resistance (see what I did there!) blew us away with a somewhat unconventional but fantastic setlist:

Main setlist:
1. Uprising (riff version)
2. Supermassive Black Hole
3. MK Ultra
4. Map of the Problematique + Who Knows Who riff
5. Bliss (Extended)
6. Guiding Light
7. Interlude + Hysteria + Back in Black outro
8. Citizen Erased
9. Nishe
10. United States of Eurasia
11. Ruled by Secrecy
12. Feeling Good
13. MK Jam
14. Undisclosed Desires
15. Resistance
16. Starlight
17. House of the Rising Sun riff + Time Is Running Out + Voodoo Child riff + Jimmy Jam
18. Unnatural Selection

Encore 1
19. Exogenesis: Symphony Part I (Overture)
20. Stockholm Syndrome + School riff + Endless Nameless riff

Encore 2 (Forced In)
21. Take a Bow
22. Plug in Baby
23. Man with a Harmonica + Knights of Cydonia

The main show kicked in with an array of flag-bearers marching down the stage and into the mosh pit, some holding lyrical slogans from ‘Uprising’. It was an extremely odd sight, seeming somewhat misplaced on the George Orwell ‘1984’-inspired pyramid stage. But once the Teignmouth boys were on stage, all was forgotten and they certainly opened strong. Being in the grandiose surroundings of Wembley, the more raucous sing-along songs got the best reception for the night – including Plug In Baby and Bliss. The set also featured a lot more riffs than usual, but these were a welcome addition – adding some uncertainty as well as respite from the belting out of Muse anthems! Many fans had anticipated (and hoped for) a performance of the entire Exogenesis symphony, and weirdly typical fan faves such as Newborn were left off, but the brilliant performances, coupled together with the amazing theatricals were more than enough to make up for it. I did notice, however, that the sound quality during the entire gig overall wasn’t great, having seen Muse perform previously at The O2, Earls Court and Wembley Arena, but have put that down to the fact that Wembley Stadium not having a roof.

When a band or artist such as Muse has perfected their performances to such a standard where they sound as good live as they do recorded, what do they do? Go all out on the theatricals. Normally, I’d guess that streamer cannons, huge balloons filled with ticker tape and smoke fountains would come into the mix somewhere, as they did at this gig. But a giant floating UFO? And when I say giant, I mean GIANT!  As the dreamy, intergalactic-feeling ‘Exogenesis: Symphony Part I’ played out, the foil beast made its way around the stadium, at one point revealing, to our squeals of delight, a spacey looking acrobat. It was captivatingly graceful and definitely the highlight of the evening for me.

The gig ended on a high-note with the six minutes long epic that is Knights of Cydonia. Drummer Dominic Howard thanked the fans, finishing ‘This is our last one for a while – see you all be again for sure’. Drawing from five albums of music and commanding with crowd with fabulous falsetto, banging bass and driving drums – Muse blew my socks off as ever. It seems impossible for Muse to better their live performances each and every time they go on tour, but they’ve done it. Without a doubt, Muse are one of the best live bands around today.

UFO at Muse Concert:

  • Conrad Rowlands

    Lucy, I do wonder if you went to the same gig…..

    Biffy Clyro got a pretty vague response and I would have much rather sat through Kasabian or even White Lies whose set I mostly missed. The highlight for me was when I went and got a Hot Dog…

    On to the Muse set It was most definitely NOT an unconventional setlist, with the exception of MK Ultra any muser could have told you the setlist weeks before and probably in order too! The previous night however was far more unpredictable and dare I say a little disappointing for it. As to the number of riffs on the Saturday:- it was as predictable as the setlist and again most fans could have predicted the riffs ahead of the gig. Don’t get we wrong I love Muse and I would not have missed this gig for the world but the formats rarely vary by much. Although Wembley was a great gig, for me it didn’t have the same atmosphere as Stade de France only two months earlier (set list was very similar!!)

    The sound quality for me was great, but then I’ve only ever seen them open air and so have no bench mark (unfortunately) to mark them against.

    At least we can agree on the fact that they were something to behold, an amazing act and in my opinion the best live band in the world today; sometimes I yearn for a bit more variety in the set but I’m just greedy as I wouldn’t want them to drop anything either.

    In summary, If you haven’t seen them live, go see them and if you have, go again!

  • Lucy Pereira

    I wish I had seen your comment earlier, Conrad!

    To be fair, I was sitting pretty high up at Wembley, and so gauging the response to the support acts was pretty difficult – especially as most people in our section also seemed to be buying hot dogs.

    Yes, I completely agree – and hear, hear to your final comment!