With a reputation as one of the world's premier live acts, it is always cause for excitement when the Teignmouth trio that comprise Muse hit the road. Much like the ever-growing anticipation for how they will push themselves sonically on each album, they have a reputation for innovative stage productions. As a bona-fide stadium outfit, the decision to play indoors only adds to the intrigue and expectation.
At this point, let's put a SPOILER ALERT in for anyone who will be attending this tour - ignorance is bliss and all that. That in itself is the first spoiler - the revival of Bliss to the live set, but let's starts at the beginning. Playing in the round is not massively unusual, but in this case the stage also has arrows at either end and this isn't just to bring the band closer to the audience or giving everyone a good view. At various times during the set, drapes will lower across the elongated stage and act as a huge video wall - this is most impressive during 'The Handler', when Matt Bellamy and Chris Wolstenholme appear to be on puppet strings. It's a stunning effect. By this point we have already been introduced to the drones that sit on a rig high above the stage when resting, but when in use the orbs containing lights move around the stage and above the audience in synchronised fashion. Breath-taking to say the least, it's a fine visual accompaniment to 'Psycho', while Bellamy's guitar playing on 'Reapers' is highly impressive.
The middle of the set mainly consists of older favourites that clearly continue to age well - the reactions to 'Supermassive Black Hole', 'Starlight' and 'Hysteria' are nothing short of, well, hysteria and the trio find a way to make the rocking latter even more enjoyable, by tagging on the outro of 'Back In Black' to it. As more recent work - 'Uprising' and 'The Globalist' - returns to the set, those drapes return and also surround the circular centre stage. The resulting holographic space odyssey again has the audience hooked on spectacular imagery, before the band move into a closing section including 'Mercy' and an epic 'Knights Of Cydonia'.
As three highly accomplished musicians, Muse could put on a perfectly good and exciting rock show based on their music alone. However, this is not enough for them, and with this production they have a show in which they are no longer centre stage (okay, physically they are, but you get the point). The drones, the holograms, the show - it is as important to them as how they play and creates a spectacle which means that you'll often find your focus isn't actually on the band. It doesn't just raise the bar for indoor rock concerts; it completely changes your thinking as to what a concert can be, though whether or not other acts dare follow suit remains to be seen. The audience certainly get their monies worth though, even with the omittance of big hits such as 'Plug In Baby' and their debut album altogether, and it'll come as absolutely no surprise if a few more Best Live Band gongs are awarded to the band.