What Happened When Muse Headlined London Stadium

Muse bring their sci-fi odyssey to the London Stadium

What Happened When Muse Headlined London Stadium
Ian Winwood

For an evening of superstar lead guitarists, tonight’s gathering in Stratford is hard to beat. The towering talent of Matt Bellamy would exist without Tom Morello, but his squalls of futuristic guitar mayhem probably would not. Onstage in an already crowded London Stadium, the American’s 45-minute set is not so much a collection of songs as a medley of sounds of a kind usually curated by a superstar DJ. He sings just once, on a truncated version of Bruce Springsteen’s The Ghost Of Tom Joad, but the leaves the growing crowd audibly impressed by musical skills that border on the magical.

By way of contrast, in a house-full stadium for an hour Muse don’t quite hit their own groove. The first half of tonight’s set relies heavily on new songs from last year’s Simulation Theory which aren’t favourites yet, but there’s also a seeming reluctance to perform songs that are neither new nor old. Selections from Simulation Theory notwithstanding, the 130-minute set features only four songs that are less than 10-years old. That one of these isn’t The Globalist, the band’s best composition since Knights Of Cydonia, which inevitably closes the show, is a real shame.

But when Muse do hit their stride they are, of course, immense and impeccable - as when they unleash Supermassive Black Hole, Hysteria, Plug In Baby, Time Is Running Out and Uprising. World class by any measure, at moments such as these – and moments such as these make up a good half of tonight’s set – the ambition, chutzpah, artistic effrontery and unhinged talent of Muse is a wonder to behold.

The people here tonight certainly think so. The London Stadium, which Matt Bellamy believes is “way better than Wembley Stadium,” is packed with an audience that spans the range of ages and sexes. This melting pot watches a production that is typically state-of-the-art, where robots crowd the stage, climbers rappel up and down a giant screen on which images and the band are projected, lasers pierce the night sky and a light show plays to the heavens as if it’s been nicked from the set of the forthcoming Star Wars movie. The message seems to be that a dystopian future awaits us, but that it can be kept at bay at least for tonight.

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