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Muse on NME of 29th September 2012


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At this point it's just a reflex to type every article. :LOL:

Cologne gig review transcript:

 

MUSE ENFORCE THEIR SECOND LAW

The space-age trio have been plugging their sixth album with talk of ecological crisis, dubstep and the Olympics. In Cologne, Tom Howard finds out whether the new songs can cut it live.

 

"We're gonna play some new songs for you," says Matt Bellamy to 2,000 people at Cologne's E-Werk venue, as he, his goatee beard and his sparkly silver shoes gear up for Muse's first live show since headlining Reading last year.

 

Tonight (September 20), they give the world the first airing of tracks from their sixth record 'The 2nd Law' at the warm-up for October's arena dates.

 

Here's what everyone wants to know: how will this whole 'dubstep direction' everyone's been talking about work out live? Is bassist Chris Wolstenholme going to sing 'Save Me' and 'Liquid State', like on the album? Will Matt dance like Thom Yorke on the electronic ones? And will their be a SPACESHIP?

 

'Supremacy', the opening track on 'The 2nd Law', begins the performance. The riff is pure and heavy, and blends well with the James Bond strings as they dance in time with the glowing LEDs on Chris's bass guitar.

 

The 2003 single and long-term live favourite 'Hysteria' follows, and it's business as usual, before new tune 'Panic Station' busts out its combination of INXS, Talking Heads and Prince. It's funky, with a deep and groovy solo.

 

Then comes 'Uprising' which, even now, has a hint of Wheatus' 'Teenage Dirtbag' about it. And 'Supermassive Black Hole', which is all about the red, green and yellow lights coming off Matt's guitar as he knee-slides about the stage.

 

Thick and fast, they follow with another newie, 'Animals'. It's post-2010 Radiohead with its jittery drums, albeit with a Dire Straits and Peter Green-era Fleetwood Mac vibe in Matt's guitar work before it explodes into a classic Muse wig-out.

 

'Time is Running Out' leads into 'Save Me', sung by bassist Chris Wolstenholme. It works, yet a Muse song without Matt on the vocal is unsettling at first, and might take some getting used to.

 

"You may know this one," is how Matt introduces recent single 'Madness', which features Chris playing a custom-made double-necked bass that's half slightly weird synth pad, half proper bass guitar. It's the best-receiving ong of the night, as crowd members hold up signs saying "MA", "MAD" and "NESS" as if they think those letter combinations somehow work together.

 

Soon enough, 'Uprising' turns into new track 'Follow Me'—a bizarre combination of 'I Will Survive', a nice bit of WHOMP and a howl from Chris that sounds a lot like Bono doing his stadium bit on 'Where The Streets Have No Name'. Early Muse adopters are appeased with 'Plug In Baby', but it's out-spectaculared by a 'Knights Of Cydonia' with a harmonica intro by Chris.

 

Barely stopping to breathe for the encore, they plough into the familiar, reassuring 'Stockholm Syndrome', its gigantic riffing leading into 'Starlight' and that massive chorus. It brings with it a strange suspicion that you may not have lived until you've heard 2,000 people sing "Our hopes and expectations/Blck holes and revelations" in a German accent. Which leaves 'Survival', the Olympic tune that isn't an Olympic tune when taken out of the context of running and jumping and throwing and crying.

 

It's bold, and not at all cheesy, and it's like Matt's singing about the whole of mankind rather than the 100 metres final. And yet, the riff is a metal as the Golden Gate Bridge. So very, very heavy. The theatrics of big arena (and stadium) treks will come later—tonight's really just about trying out the new tunes. We get six of them. But there'll definitely be more on the arena tour coming up shortly. Muse are so back. The greatest, most riidculous, most ridiculously enjoyable rock band in the world. Are you ready?

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Album Review:

 

Forget that song for the Olympics, the dubstep thing and the high-minded concepts. This is great simply because it's fun

 

The Olympic and Paralympic Games turned out brilliantly in the end, but you can't blame people for being cynical as they approached. Londoners were narked about the potential transport chaos (never happened) and the threat of nuclear atrocity on our doorstep because of warheads parked nearby (didn't happen either). Outside the capital, concerns were aesthetic. First, those bloody mascots. Next, that illegible logo. Also, that typeface. And the final insult: the official song. No Olympic tune could ever hope to measure up to Whitney's outrageously fit-for-purpose 'One Moment In Time'. But that the overblown catastrophe of 'Survival' came from Muse—not only one of our finest bands, but one who, despite their sci-fi scale, always marked themselves out with heroic senses of humanity and melody—felt like a final insult after the misfire that was 2009's 'The Resistance'. Matt, Chris and Dom's fifth album was an unintentional retelling of the story of Icarus as they became victims of their own ambition. And after Muse flew so close to the sun last time, it sounded disastrous that the album housing 'Survival' was to be based around the second law of thermodynamics (in brief: a way of explaining why any system based upon limited resources and endless growth—for example, the world we live in—is careering to a catastrophic end). Icarus, at least, learned the lesson of hubris from his mistakes. But then he died.

 

The reassuring news is that 'Survival' sounds marginally better on an album than in the context of the Games. But not much. If anything, it serves as a reminder about how 2012 got us all a bit overexcited. Chris Martin from Coldplay sure did when he described the follow-up, 'Madness', as the best song Muse have ever done. He's wrong, despite it being an enjoyable sexual electro slow-jam that moves Muse along as a band, while re-establishing an element of mystique. But in keeping with the word 'survival', 'The 2nd Law' gets better.

 

'Supremacy' opens things with a bombast that just about stops short of making you roll your eyes about 'more bloody cataclysmic Muse' because it does the cataclysmic Muse thing in a new way. "Wait to see your true emancipation is a fantasy", goes Matt Bellamy. "Save our crops from drought". There are plenty of lines like that, as they pre-empt the end of the world. 'Panic Station' is outrageous, taut funk—even tauter than 'Supermassive Black Hole', with the slappy bass and saxophones of some of your camper '80s discos. 'Follow Me' is 'Map Of The Problematique' reimagined as a love song with dubstep wobbles. The fiddly ambience of 'Animals' recalls U2's 'Love Is Blindness' by way of a Shins track.

 

Then the sounds of (euphoric? angry? it's hard to tell) crowds usher in the second half of the record, and the second law stuff really kicks in. It's now that things get really interesting. 'Explorers' channels Queen once again in the shape of the melody from 'Don't Stop Me Now', and contains a warning about "the planet being overrun". Things continue in this direction with the self-explanatory 'Big Freeze', which comes across like an angular indie band from 2004 (although, yes, via Queen again). Chris Wolstenholme's confessional recovering-alcoholic segment—including the trippy 'Save Me' and the misguided alt-rock of 'Liquid State', both of which he sings—is less successful in the cold light of day than it probably sounded when the idea was hatched. And in the final act, the album doesn't need the one true dubstep moment that comes on 'Unsustainable'. By this point, though, you've forgiven Muse, because even though 'The 2nd Law' doesn't scale the 10/10 superhuman heights of 'Black Holes & Revelations', it's their most human record since 2003's 'Absolution'. It's not inspiring enough to make us heed the warnings and change the world forever. But what Muse have done is re-establish themselves as a respected British institution by being fun. Exactly what the Olympic Games taught this country to do, too.

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"Fucking Hell, how do we do this again?"

Muse talk exclusively to NME after the show

 

You didn't play 'New Born'. Why not?

Matt: "It was the first gig and we were just playing a shorter set, so we had to cut stuff. On the real tour it'll be a toss-up between 'Stockholm Syndrome' and 'New Born' on a nightly basis."

 

Were you vibing off the new stuff?

Matt: "Based on tonight, I think this album will translate better live than the last album did. Last album, the biggest tracks were 'Resistance' and 'Uprising', but songs like 'Supremacy', 'Panic Station' and 'Survival' really adapt to the live show. We haven't been to that realm before."

Dom: "The new stuff went down well. And we were nervous of course. For the first gig back you're like, 'Fucking hell, how do we do this again?' but then we just relax into it, settle in, and you look forward to the next one."

 

Chris, what's that weird pad on your bass guitar that you use when you play 'Madness'?

Chris "it's a synth and it's called a kitara. It's a bit of a bitch to use, actually. My double-necked thing is custom-made, so it's a bass and a guitar together. It's a toy really, a Guitar Hero thing. It looks fucking cool, that's the main thing."

 

Was it scary doing the lead vocal on 'Save Me' for the first time?

Chris: "I thought it was fucking awful but everyone else keeps telling me it was great. I was chatting with Matt afterwards and saying it was weird because it's something I'd never experienced before, and when you're singing you feel really detached from the other guys. I wasn't ready for that."

 

What new tunes did you not play tonight that you will eventually play?

Chris: "'Explorers'" is gonna be great, really cool. It's one of the chilled-out ones. And we'll do 'Liquid State' in the arenas. I didn't want to sing that tonight though, I wanted to ease in gently. Your sixth album, when you're 33, is a weird time to decide you suddenly want to be a singer.

 

VIEW FROM THE CROWD

What the punters thought of Muse's new show

 

Emana, 30, East Germany

"Fabulous, amazing. New songs were great, definitely a few singles in there. 'Uprising' was my favourite though—it's the rington on my phone."

 

Sasha, 36, Essen

"Fantastic show, great musicians. Really interesting new songs which have loads of potential. Most of them started quite softly but ended strong and loud."

 

Vabina, Bienslag, 23

"Great songs. Great band. I'm a fan anyway, and I liked the electronic stuff they did. I like the new thing—it's just brilliant, isn't it. And I like Matt's beard."

 

MUSE ON…

 

…Babies and Prince

Matt: "'Follow Me' emerged from the experience of having a baby. And at first I sang 'Panic Station' normally. It wasn't exciting, so I pretended I was Prince."

 

…Letting the bassist sing

Chris: "I'd written music before but not lyrics. I thought Matt would sing 'Liquid State' and 'Save Me'. All of a sudden I've got a fucking microphone."

 

…Olympic Spirit

Dom: "It wasn't just for the Olympics, but it reflected what the Olympics is. I heard it on the other day on the radio and thought, 'What is this?' It's pretty out-there."

 

BEST TRACKS: 'Follow Me', 'Madness', 'Panic Station'

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Few good and bad points from this i guess :LOL:

 

The Cologne gig was shorter than they expect to play for the rest of the tour, so we should be looking at more than 17 songs :D

 

A toss up between New Born and Stockholm each night...Hopefully that shows that there is going to be a little bit more rotation on other songs too, although i have to say whichever i get i will still be so miffed that i didn't get the other. I've always found New Born better live though. Stockholm always seems such a massive wall of sound that it's hard for me to distinguish any instruments in it

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SS and New Born are Muse's best live songs. This sucks.

 

This. What the actual fuck. :( That's the worst thing they could have said about which songs they'd cut live - actually really upset at that. They're huge ones for the crowd.

 

Anyways, is this out now or tomorrow going by the thread title? Odd for it to be out on a Saturday, lol. Need to buy it!

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