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Muse - Etihad Stadium, Manchester - June 1 2013 (Live Review)

Friday, 21 June 2013 Written by Emma Dodds

Even if you're not a big fan of Muse, it's hard to watch a clip of their live show without getting excited. With bangers such as Supermassive Black Hole and Panic Station, their latest single, Muse are able to break free of their roots in rock to appeal to a wider audience. That much was apparent as they took the stage at Manchester's Etihad Stadium.

It was a suitably lovely day for a stadium show, and with the weather on their side Muse had a perfect platform from which to thrill a huge crowd. Before the main event, Bastille and Dizzee Rascal did their best to warm up the assembled throng. Bastille, future darlings of the indie set, took their chance with both hands and fitted the bill surprisingly well, with Laura Palmer and Flaws both delivered in style. 

The booking of Dizzee Rascal deserved a few raised eyebrows. While he delivered a typically fine performance, there were doubts that he could complement Muse's sprawling rock sound.

Luckily, he had the crowd in the palm of his hand and provided highlights in Holiday and Bassline Junkie – which drew a few priceless looks from the assembled parents accompanying their kids.

Muse then made their entrance, flanked by video screens and surrounded by other-worldly spiked stage dressing, which immediately conjured images of the Supermassive Black Hole video.

The whole stage set was synced up for maximum effect, with various banks of lights chiming in with orbs and bulbs scattered throughout the stadium. As one of the few modern acts able to command a stage this size, it's good that they understand how to use it.

A sudden burst of sound introduced The 2nd Law: Unsustainable, accompanied by the first of the evening's video collages, followed quickly by Supremacy with an extended intro. Supermassive Black Hole ensured that no-one in the place was sitting still, with Panic Station bringing images of Barack Obama in a United States flag suit, David Cameron's austere face and Paul McCartney to the video wall.

The theatrical theme continued with "Animals", where an actor flitted between appearances on the screens and the stage, where he was joined by shots of money confetti over the audience, before collapsing. The effect of the camera was invasive, uncomfortable and teed up bassist Chris Wolstenholme to run through Man With The Harmonica from Sergio Leone's Once Upon A Time In The West, as a preface to Knights of Cydonia.

A cover of Lightning Bolt's Dracula Mountain followed, along with United States of Eurasia, Dead Star and Monty Jam, before Bellamy brought the house down with Feeling Good, which was everything the crowd wanted it to be and more. The band had more tricks up their sleeve as the camera zoomed in on Bellamy's face to show that he was wearing LCD glasses, with a word from the song popping up every so often, while Wolstenhome jammed a bass complete with Kaoss Pad.

A brief run through House Of The Rising Sun heralded the start of Time Is Running Out, which worked really well, while the band spun a wheel to determine whether Newborn or Stockholm syndrome would follow. In the end, Stockholm Sydndrome won, with a bit of Rage Against The Machine's Freedom thrown in for good measure.

Unintended and Blackout followed, along with further extravagances from the set. A giant lightbulb dropped confetti and a dancer onto the stage prior to Guiding Light, and Bellamy took to the crowd during Undisclosed Desires, shaking hands before leaving the stage. A brace of encores followed, with the band hitting heights usually associated with Queen as classics such as Plug In Baby and Starlight sent a packed house home happy.


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