Immense boredom cued me to browse Youtube one monotonous day about a year ago. I had been paying attention to the buzz surrounding an eccentric rock outfit known as Muse on various sites, Sputnik being one of them. However, Youtube was the first time I experienced the band, and the majority of the videos during this time of discovery were live clips. I couldn’t help but be taken by the amount of sheer energy the trio put off. It seemed like they really enjoyed playing their music as much as the audience enjoyed listening to it. This is what convinced me to buy into the hype; their live show is what made me fall in love with them, and it’s also a key element of what makes Muse the band they are.
The band already has one live album/DVD, Hullaballoo
, but the difference between that and H.A.A.R.P.
is this performance was after the band released their most recent album Black Holes and Revelations
, and a good deal of the set is from that album. A Muse show is already a big deal, but add to the fact this particular one is in their home country and it’s in a rather large venue, Wembley Stadium, and you’ve got yourself one expensive concert to put on. I can’t imagine the amount of money that was put into the show; when you watch the DVD you can see the hooplah that Muse generate and in turn how much effort was put into this simply by the structures on the stage, millions of lights, pyrotechnics, fog machines and oh yeah, that ridiculously giant screen that alternates between closeup shots of the band members and random flashy sequence shenanegans.
The band put together a nice set list, a blend of old and new but mostly new songs. Any fan will shiver in excitement when they hear the opening of the first song, “Knights of Cydonia”; an extensive stings-only intro echoes across the stadium as the band mans their instruments, and it leads straight into the song. Immediately noticeable is the how the bass and drums are mixed lower than they are in studio recordings, especially the bass. This is quite common for live mixes, but for a band like Muse that relies so much on the bass and drums to carry a song, it’s really disappointing. Matt’s vocals, guitar and piano are all way louder than everything else and it gets annoying. This was especially disappointing for bass driven songs like “Hysteria” and “New Born” and drums driven songs like “Map of the Problematique”.
Everyone was spot on with their performance, however. As expected, Matt shows off with altering some riffs in favor of more complicated riffs, and the band improvises a few times with satisfying results. There were a few jams in between songs that would’ve fit right in with a Muse song. The band’s more energetic songs are usually the ones that translate the best into a live setting, and fan favorites such as “Stockholm Syndrome”, “Butterflies and Hurricanes” and “Micro Cuts” are all there. However, “Citizen Erased”, which is generally considered by most fans their best song, is sorely missed.
Being a live album and DVD, this is only for big fans. Most of their well liked songs are here, and the band plays them all perfectly with some extra goodies thrown in. But the mix is subpar and some fans of their older material may be turned off by the percentage of Black Holes and Revelations
that gets played and the presence of only one Showbiz
song, “Unintended”. The album is a great example of the band’s incredible live show nonetheless, and should be picked up by anyone that’s more than a casual fan.