Reviewed by John Aizlewood for the Evening Standard
Muse, Wembley Arena, November 06
Revelation on stage
These are the very best of times for Muse. The Teignmouth trio's fourth studio album, Black Holes And Revelations, not only topped the British charts, but, much more significantly, also breached the American Top 10.
Last night, the first of three at Wembley Arena (they play tonight and tomorrow), confirmed both their heavyweight status and their sheer oddness.
Singer, lead guitarist and sole-songwriter Matt Bellamy may be part man, part elf, part underworld dandy, but despite boyishly sliding across stage on his knees during Hysteria, he took more than an hour to address the crowd and then it was to inanely ask if those at the back were having a good time. They were, apparently. Then he renewed his vow of silence.
More odd still is Muse's sound. Musical kleptomaniacs, they wear their influences proudly. To pinpoint just three: Map Of The Problematique was interesting-period U2; Starlight was more Keane than most of the last Keane album and Citizen Erased was Nirvana's On A Plane played properly.
And yet, contradictions abounded. For all their pofaced reticence between songs, these unimposing souls, almost lost on the big stage, provided a genuine spectacle and a thrilling roller-coaster ride. As the hundreds of lighters raised when Soldier's Poem offered a rare respite from full-pelt so spectacularly underlined, Muse don't need to talk to communicate effectively.
Moreover, easy as Bellamy's songs are to pick apart - New Born straddled that hitherto untravelled road where The Darkness meet the Just A Minute theme - they remained startlingly original.
If the records are their leader's, on stage Muse are a communal enterprise. Drummer Dominic Howard was an unstoppable force of nature throughout and Chris Wolstenholme wielded his bass as if it were the lead instrument. For a trio (plus a hidden guitarist/keyboardist skulking at the back of the stage), they made an almighty cacophony.
Almost two hours after they began, Muse concluded with their first stab at immortality, the splendidly bonkers Knights Of Cydonia, which nodded to Iron Maiden's galloping The Phantom Of The Opera; The Tornados' Telstar (the instrumental hit on which Bellamy's father played rhythm guitar in 1962) and The Who's Cousin Kevin.
As befitted an opus that may or may not concern the Cydonia region of Mars, it sounded like nothing on earth. After 10 air-punching minutes, it expired in a puff of smoke and before the exhausted audience had caught their breath, Muse were gone. Crikey