Muse treat fans with setlist-on-demand show for charity at Shepherd’s Bush Empire
Over the last decade, Muse shows have featured Orwellian LED pyramids, UFOs, satellite dishes, drones, acrobats suspended from illuminated white balloons and a 16-foot robot named Charles (who would moonwalk and spew out CO2). They have become a stadium rock band par excellence, dazzling audiences the world over with their archly dystopian vision and technological oddities.
At Shepherd’s Bush Empire, a benefit show to raise money for The Passage, they let ticket holders curate the set; out went everything from 2009’s The Resistance onwards and with it the extravagant props. The result was a return to the Devon trio’s musical and live roots, and a startling reminder of how spiky, raw and emotive they can be.
First up came Assassin, whose heavy, stabbing riff set the tone for the night; the standing section split into waves of pogoing. The feeling of euphoric frenzy was only heightened by the bitterly venomous Dead Star and the 1999-released Muscle Museum, which was met with such an overwhelming reaction that frontman Matt Bellamy stepped away from his mic to let the fans sing the opening verse.
And the rarities kept on coming: four b-sides/bonus tracks made it onto the 18-song setlist; one of these, Easily, had never been played live before and another, Futurism, kicked off the final encore. Unquestionably this was a show for hardcore fans. Yet those seeing them for the first time, and hankering to hear the hits, were suitably catered for too, with Plug in Baby, New Born, Hysteria and the communal, rabble-rousing Knight of Cydonia all aired.
Muse’s recent output has combined spacey, operatic music with reflexively political lyrics – their latest single Dig Down exemplifies this – and the songs chosen for the show tonight feature no fewer solos and no less falsetto, but they are starker. Brooding on unrequited love or past relationships, they are catapults to the heart, rather than the head. Looking round the venue, one could easily see how much they meant, and continue to mean, to scores of the band’s fans. By the end of the night, strangers everywhere had their arms around each other’s shoulders. Muse have become a quintessential stadium rock act, but they can be as compelling in a venue of this size.
Photo: Filippo L’Astorina
For further information and future events visit the Muse website here.
Watch the entire concert at Shepherd’s Bush Empire here: