Muse | Emirates Stadium | 26 May 2013
It’s only fitting that Muse’s stage backdrop is a power station. The band earned an estimated £23-million last year alone. They’re a global industry, selling out stadiums from Tokyo to Buenos Aires on their current world tour.
London is no different, Arsenal’s home ground filled to capacity for the second consecutive day of overwrought rock anthems presented with all the subtlety of Liberace.
A light bulb carrying a breathtakingly acrobatic ballerina floats above the crowd during ‘Blackout’. Matt Bellamy’s sunglasses display select lyrics to ‘Madness’, like some futuristic karaoke machine. ‘Animals’ sees a banker throwing money out into the audience before he collapses, dead, in a maelstrom of swirling banknotes. A businesswoman drinks from a petrol pump before she collapses, dead, as Bellamy plays ‘Feeling Good’ on a perspex-topped grand piano.
But not even the six gargantuan smoke stacks pumping out fireballs with alarming regularity can overpower the bombastic songs themselves. The four musicians on stage know that everyone’s turned up to pump their fists to songs like ‘Supermassive Black Hole’, ‘Uprising’, and ‘Plug In Baby’ or scream along to ‘Resistance’, ‘Butterflies and Hurricanes’, and ‘Starlight’. So, through all the overblown theatrics, the band are clearly focused on delivering the best musical performances possible. Drummer Dom Howard is capable of surprising aggression. Chris Wolstenholme displays far more dexterity than a bassist might. Bellamy may not be the most charismatic frontman ever but knows how to use his vocal- and guitar-theatrics to bring 60 000 people to a frenzy – or to tears.
Subtlety still isn’t their strong suit, but Muse prove yet again that big can be beautiful.