Muse, Leeds University, 28th May 2001.

Vanguard Online May 28, 2001 0

Muse
@ The University, Leeds
26th May 2001
www.vanguard-online.co.uk

Shall we get the obvious words out of the way? Radiohead, Feeder, redemptive, pretentious, stage managed. Now I can get on and tell you how GREAT they are and what a tour you missed. If you did, run out on 18th of June and buy the LP then wait for a chance to go to the next tour. The crowd were keen, all present to worship in the church of Muse, ceremony given the blessing of the media gods in a huge spinning robot camera arm, the censer of the evening.

Muse bravely opened with a track off the new album, Micro Cuts. Matthew’s castrato vocals lend to the long distance illusion that Nosferatu’s grandchild is entertaining us. Yup, entertainment; this was FUN. Serious fun. There were huge crashout electric squalls throughout Newborn. The guitar dominates more than the sometimes piano driven records, lots of chiming and squealing. The elegant tango of Showbiz whipped the crowd into a froth and the guitar trickery reminded me of last night’s Fred Frith concert. Then, after five songs, Matthew deigned to speak to us. Poor flower, perhaps he was nervous. Perhaps he was too intent. Muse were very intent, they meant it all and at times we stood in awe, during the oldies we jumped about. So, the ‘surprise cover version’ – not a surprise if you’ve heard the new album – ‘Tonight, Matthew, we’re going to be Nina Simone’. It was a little rest before the lovely piano pattern of Showbiz’s Wild Is the Wind-esque track one, side one (remember sides?). Then, just for a larf, a led Zep-ish blues riffing thingy before THE HIT. Arms outstretched and a few lighters aloft, a singalong. Matthew seemed to have transformed from a vapire soprano to a human having a great time. The TV’s robot arm spins and swivels. How come our attention spans are so short that it can’t keep still?

The audience has gone from intent through bouncing to ecstatic surfing as Showbiz is played through. What makes Muse so massive is the boy / girl appeal. Infectious riffs, big tunes and loads of guitar wankery as Matthew and Chris wave their axes at each other. Plug in Baby signals an explosion on and off stage as our happiness has no limit. Matthew winks out of existence in a fall to the floor before bouncing up again for a new song, Bliss. I can’t help but think of Louis Armstrong’s We Have All The Time In The World when I hear the chorus. This MUST be the next single.

Distracting us from the discomfort of an unfamiliar, if storming, song, Muse send huge Prisoner type ballons out onto us and Matthew indulges in some half-arsed guitar smashing. No encore and we wandered out like good little people, sated by the wonder that is the rock’n’roll circus. All in all, a marvel. The sort of gig that reminds you what rock is about. The sort of gig that you suspect you’ll be able to say ‘I was there’ about. They’ll never sound this good in stadiums. Make the most of them now. Applying Colin’s concert formula of time (relative to 1 hour) times number of must-hear tracks played times surprise cover versions times jumping around, this comes in as a good ‘un.

Ross McGibbon

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