Muse – Manchester Academy - 06/04/2001

Maybe they should have called themselves Muso.  I mean, they really are that pretentious - there are peacocks out there with more humility than Matt Bellamy.  Whether it’s blue hair, Amadeus piano-hammering, big bouncy balloons floating over the sell-out crowd, a total lack of respect for the guitar he plays, or the trashing of the instruments that now ends every Muse gig, the key word is ‘ostentatious’, and it always will be.  But then, isn’t it that what we have always paid our best rockstars for?

How gratifying, then, that they also play like a band that’s here to save all our problems.  Fuck Radiohead, Muse are the new Queen, Mozart, Jeff Buckley, Nirvana and Jimi Hendrix Experience all rolled into one big bag of spine-snappingly good songs.  If tonight is an indication of the new album, then praise be levelled now rather than at its release.  ‘New Born’ starts off as piano psycho-drama, gets taken up by the bass and then by the awesome guitar, turning into a caterwaul of complex symphonies that makes Bohemian Rhapsody sound like Yellow Submarine.  And of course, instant classic ‘Plug In Baby’ gets better every time you hear it, and its explosively arpeggiated riff would sound frankly ridiculous in the hands of any mere mortal.  And it’s after this that they play ‘Muscle Museum’ – they obviously want us dead...

They have even got better at the tender moments – ‘Unintended’’s normally token appearance becomes a necessity in the Muse live catalogue, with Chris’s bass making way for acoustic guitar and Matt’s souring distorted electric rumblings always threatening to engulf his preciously precocious vocals.

So please just forget whatever preconception you had of this band – if you find them too pretentious then its unlikely that you will ever understand the true nature of true rock.  And this is a band doing it as unashamedly naked and as blisteringly original as any you will ever hear.  It’s not quite lycra pants and red snappers just yet, but that’s just so last century anyway.  Muse are the first post-millennial rock band.  Believe.

Collen Chandler