Muse - Manchester Apollo - 3.11.01

If a bands pushing the right buttons then they'll inspire love and hate in equal measures. There's nothing worse than everyone just saying you're all right and have Baby Spice sitting on the fence saying "its not my cup of tea but I can see why people like it". If that's the type of reaction you inspire then you might as well give up now. Muse are one of those bands whose badge you can wear with pride - for the simple fact its a "bit weird" and the average bloke in the street won't get it. Forgive me for being superior but you all love it when you're playing your leftfield 7" and the rest of the classroom are dancing to the latest Ibiza anthem. Don't you dare deny you don't look down on them.

If tonight is to anything to go by it really is hard to imagine Muse ever writing a straight-forward pop song. The nearest they get to that tonight is "Plug In Baby" and that by no stretch of the imagination a conventional pop song or rock song for that matter. The big questions are just where do Muse go next? and will they do a Radiohead? Lets be honest most of you are waiting for the old Muse up their own arses response. With their prog rock tendencies and tendency for over-blown operatic rock the obvious direction would be to get an orchestra in and really take things to the next level. Far too often these days band take the option of an orchestra simply to disguise their own inadequacies as songwriters - however imagine Matt Bellamy going into the studio with Nitin Sawney and producing a orchestral epic that could be played on CD:UK and next to Led Zep respectively.

Live of course there's little you can do with a 3 piece band set up but Muse try their best. Projections of the bands most intimate orifices (OK, their instruments) are transformed from simple images to cinematic beauty and at time not dis-similar to the film work of Roxy Music. Matt clearly has taken to the role of ego-centric mad scientist with the best rock poses in the world book at easy reach. If you've heard Muse on record you've really got to see them live to experience the full picture. There's only two bands at the moment pushing things on the live settings right now - the Super Furry Animals are one of those bands. Muse are the other.

Alex McCann