Saturday, 15 January 2011

Concert Review: Muse – Wembley Stadium, London, September 11, 2010

Wembley Stadium, Muse September 11 2010 

Back in September, I went to see Muse at Wembley Stadium.  I’m not sure why I never posted this review but I suspect it had a lot to do with how disappointed I had been in my photos from that evening.  Nevertheless, I did make some detailed notes about the gig and have decided to swallow my pride and go ahead with the posting it!

It is notoriously hard to get concert tickets in London as they sell out within minutes of going on sale.  It is well known that many of those tickets are bought in bulk by ticket touts intending to sell them online or outside gigs for hugely inflated prices.  In 1995, I paid £100 for £30 tickets for Glastonbury and in 2004, I paid £80 for £25 Pixies tickets.  I consider, therefore, that I have paid my dues and I will never, ever pay ticket tout prices for a gig again.

Ticket, Muse at Wembley Staium, September 11 2010

Which is a problem.  Music has always been a passion of mine and attending concerts has always been an important measure of that passion.  Earlier this year, there were but four bands that I considered to be among my favourites that I had not seen in concert; excluding the bands I did see at Exit Festival they were Radiohead, Muse, Collide and Editors.  At the end of 2008, I was really disappointed when I had gone online as booking opened to buy Muse tickets and they sold out within minutes.  I did not want to be disappointed again in 2009 and joined up to Muse’s fan club with the specific intention of getting tickets this time.  It worked.  I might have only managed to get nose bleed seats half a stadium away from the stage but at least I was finally able to watch Muse at Wembley on September 11, 2010.

 

I Am Arrows

I Am Arrows at Wembley (supporting Muse)

I Am Arrows were the first support band of the evening.  They played quite a short set and it could not have been easy for them being first band in a line-up when the crowd was obviously there for the headline act.  They struggled at times to get the crowd really going at all and they seemed lost in the stadium setting but they redeemed themselves with their last two songs.  They played a cover of the Tears for Fears classic “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” which had everyone’s hands in the air and they finished off with their most well known song “Green Grass”. 

 

White Lies

White Lies at Wembley (supporting Muse)

White Lies were up next and immediately seemed more comfortable in the stadium than the previous band.  Their sound quality seemed improved over I Am Arrows too but this might have been down to their confidence. White Lies are one of those bands that I’d heard of but had never taken the time to listen to before last night but I was impressed enough to go out and get their music.  Although White Lies are known to dislike the comparison, it is impossible not to notice the similarity between Harry McVeigh’s lovely baritone voice and that of Tom Smith of Editors.  They played an energetic set and played some of their new material as well as the old favourites “To Lose My Life” and “Farewell to the Fairground” which finally seemed to get the crowd going for the evening.

 

Biffy Clyro

Biffy Clyro at Wembley (supporting Muse)

Biffy Clyro were the last supporting act of the evening.  I’ve been listening to Biffy Clyro quite a lot over the past year and reviewed their album Only Revolutions back in March.  I’ve linked to the review so that you can see what the band did look like because they looked nothing like that now.  I was expecting a rather polished rock band but what we saw on stage was just a mess.  To be fair, there was obviously something wrong with their sound because on about the fourth song, vocalist Simon Neil seemed to make a complaint of sorts and the sound immediately improved thereafter.  Which is a real pity because I could barely recognise “That Golden Rule”, “Living Is A Problem Because Everything Dies” and “Bubbles”.  Thankfully, they seemed to get it right for their massive hits “Who’s Got a Match” and “”Mountains” and I enjoyed hearing “Born On A Horse”, “Shock Shock” and “Many of Horror” too.  They closed with “The Captain” which certainly seemed to please the crowd.  Keeping in mind that there probably was some kind of problem with their sound initially, I would still say that Biffy Clyro need to get their act together as this was not the calibre of performance I would expect from a band opening for Muse.

 

Muse

Muse at Wembley (September 11 2010) 01

It is not easy to describe a Muse concert without making gratuitous use of superlatives.  Perhaps it would be best to start at the end as Muse played their closing chords: the electricity was in the air and all around me and I stood still, in awe of the fantastic concert that I had seen, more than a little stunned that it was over.  If I were limited to but one single word to describe the concert, it would have to be “perfect”. (Note well: when you live on the other side of London and you have two tubes and a train to catch before you even enter Kent, there is in fact no time to stand in awe of the band you have just seen at Wembley, no matter how great they are.  It is best to keep this in mind to avoid sprinting through stations and literally catching the last tubes and trains of the evening).

Muse at Wembley (September 11 2010) 02

Muse began their set by bursting onto stage and belting out "Uprising", "Supermassive Black Hole" and "MK Ultra". I was absolutely thrilled when they went on to play "Map of the Problematique" next as it is one of my favourite songs and they had not played it at the Wembley gig the evening before. "Bliss" and "Guiding Light" followed and then, to my utter delight, they played "Hysteria" preceded by the full version of "Interlude".

I won't list all of the songs that followed but my highlights were their cover of the Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley classic "Feeling Good"; the platform lifting away from the stage and carrying the band into the air during "Undisclosed Desires"; and their cover of the old Animals classic "House of the Rising Sun" which lead into my very favourite Muse song "Time Is Running Out".

Muse at Wembley (September 11 2010) 03Muse at Wembley (September 11 2010) 04 

During their first encore, the bank played “Exogenesis: Symphony Part 1 (Overture)” and a giant, inflatable UFO came from around the back of the stage and floated across the stadium.  That was incredible and mind-blowing enough but then a trapeze artist dropped out of the balloon and began to perform acrobatics in the air.  It was fabulous to see!  They played “Stockholm Syndrome” too in that encore and disappeared off the stage again. 

Muse at Wembley (September 11 2010) 05

Muse at Wembley (September 11 2010) 07Muse at Wembley (September 11 2010) 08 

Muse at Wembley (September 11 2010) 09Muse at Wembley (September 11 2010) 10

I have to say, I was pretty confident that they would return for a second encore and was thrilled when they returned with “Take a Bow”, “Plug In Baby” and “Knights of Cydonia”.  All too soon, it was over and all we were left with was a feeling of exhilaration and scores of white orbs that descended over the crowd.  Seeing Muse at Wembley was honestly one of the best experiences of my life!  The only complaint I have about the whole of Muse’s set was that they didn’t play “New Born” (which they played the night before) but I do think hearing “Map of the Problematique” was an acceptable trade.

Muse at Wembley (September 11 2010) 12

Muse at Wembley (September 11 2010) 11Muse at Wembley (September 11 2010) 13

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12 comments

  1. Yay Emm..what a fascinating read..I so enjoyed your reviews...thanks so much for sharing all of this!!

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  2. wow! you are sooo lucky. we hardly have any western band concert here, normally we leverage in thailand/indonesia or singapore.

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  3. interesting - saw U2 here more years ago than I care to remember. It looks sort of different, though.

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  4. first: i seriously hope you had hearing protection b/c that seemed extremely loud! what a venue. i'm glad you swallowed the bitter pill of pride and posted in spite of your doubting. really liked the pics. they give one a sense of perspective worked just fine! hope ex-pat living is blessing you in '11. -- from L.A., I am ...

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  5. @ Kiki: Thank you so much! I'm glad you enjoyed it!

    @ Lily: Ha! There are about 5 major reasons why we moved to London including our careers, the crime in Jo'burg and me wanting to live and work in a big city. Easy accessibility to media (cheap books, cds, dvds) and being able to see the biggest bands on the planet were right up there!

    @ David: The hexagonal stage was Muse's own stage but having said that, they did rebuild Wembley a couple of years ago.

    @ JG: Hee! It was loud. Thank you so much for the compliment! My expat life is fab thanks, moreso after returnig from 3 weeks in South Africa!

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  6. Only been to Wembley Stadium once and all I know is that I would never pay my own money to go and watch a band play there! The same goes with the O2 Arena. I just can't get into watching the action from such a distance. And much more should be done to stop touts getting their hands on so many tickets!

    Pity Biffy Clyro were off form, because from I have heard they have a good reputation for playing live.

    I can only imagine the nightmare journey you have to get home and I thought it was bad travelling from Wembley to Kilburn, which is in fact a piece of cake in comparison.

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  7. From your pics, that's exactly what I expect from a Muse concert. Big extravagant stage with screens and many colorful lights.
    I hope I could get the sound sensation too.
    Hmmm, it's time to visit youtube.

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  8. I'd agree with William on the large stadium gigs, I prefer a smaller venue for a better atmosphere. I saw Biffy Clyro at Glasgow Barrowland and they blew the roof off the place. I dunno maybe they were a little under the influence that night.

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  9. I am a Graphic Designer and third year degree student based in Bristol, UK. I have spent some years travelling and living abroad in USA, Australia, Asia and Canada and so decided to focus my final self-directed design work on ‘Expats and Living Abroad’.

    I am currently inviting expats to participate in my project by answering a short online questionnaire on my blog: www.samanthabarber.com/expat. The results of the survey as well as interviews which I plan to carry out with expats will form the basis for my study over the next 6 months. Interested parties can sign up to receive updates on the project and can even be part of a review panel for design solutions I propose.

    If you would like to take part or think this may be of interest to your readers I would be really grateful if you could add it to your website or suggest where I could post an entry about it.

    Many thanks, best regards
    Sam Barber

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  10. Such an interesting review...thanks so much for sharing.
    Great series of photos, too. :)

    B xx

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  11. Emm ... after reading this review I am just so so incredibly envious!! I missed out seeing Muse when they played here and I've not actually been to Wembley stadium at all. So two more things to add to my ever growing "bucket list"!!

    Great review! Great photos too! ;) I went to see the U2 360 tour a month or so ago but haven't reviewed it for the very same 'bad photos' reason. Your photos here are fantastic compared to mine ... trust me! lol

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  12. i have seen Muse twice,but this gig at wembley totaly took it....with my 14 year old daughter we came from the midlands to see the best live band in the world..been in to Muse for 9 years plus

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