Matt Bellamy, Dom Howard and Chris Wolstenholme are not the kind of musicians to take on the world half-arsed. Five albums in and countless tours around the globe, Muse remain a powder keg of delicious sound and energy, brimming with style, arrogance, talent and a clear sense of fun.
They have something to say, like most musicians. But there’s no preaching; no lectures. The interviews are earnest, revealing, and usually a little tongue in cheek, while the music assaults you, riles you into protest, then smacks you across the face with a well-aimed placard and soothes you into unconsciousness as paramedics try to stem the bleeding.
Muse are one of those bands your children will ask you about. One of the greatest entertainment acts on the planet today, whether you value their astounding musical vision or the sheer audacity of their live performances — giant balloons, dancing robots and the sight of front man Matt flinging his futuristic guitar over his shoulder and attacking the piano like the ghost of Chopin.
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When their first album Showbiz came out in 1999 it was a low-key success, lurking in the shadows of alternative rock gods Radiohead at their peak following the release of OK Computer a couple of years before (perhaps the only worthy album comparison among those tired “Radiohead-lite” jibes). Origin of Symmetry was the dark, ballsy follow-up, hammering us with singles such as Bliss, Newborn and the riff Total Guitar voted best of the decade: Plug In Baby.
Then came the conspiracy theories. Absolution, their third album, teased us with the end of the world; a work of art that from the first listen sounds like it deserves its very own musical in the West End. And their fourth release, Black Holes and Revelations, seems like a collection Fox Mulder might have found at the bottom of one of his X-Files — Matt first screaming at the government to burn in hell for their sins (Take A Bow), before opening up a can of space-age Britney Spears (Supermassive Black Hole) and finally throwing us to the cowboys and aliens (Knights Of Cydonia).
Muse’s fifth album, The Resistance, was a 1984-style Orwellian masterpiece. Again they evolved and explored new musical directions, but never without that quintessential sense of fun, proving Doctor Who can be s-xy (Uprising), keytars are back (Undisclosed Desires), and Queen live on (United States of Eurasia). In fact, the only bad thing about the album was that it wasn’t nearly long enough — the closing three-part, 13-minute classical genius of Exogenesis only scratches the surface at what could be if they turn their attention to scoring films.
Whether you understand what they’re harping on about or couldn’t care less, the Muse experience is something you need to see for yourself. Beg, steal or borrow to get into the best show in town. Your children will thank you for it.
The details: Muse’s The Resistance tour kicked off in Brisbane (their second show is tonight) and plays Sydney on Thursday-Friday, Melbourne on December 14-15 and Perth on December 19. Tickets through Ticketek.