Review Summary: A concert that is not worth the price of admission.
Few bands in recent memory have put as much effort into their "live" persona as Muse have. While their concerts are not unconventional nor particularly gimmicky, Muse have made it abundantly clear that, when all is said and done, their heart lies on stage. This has been made evident by songs such as "United States of Eurasia" or "Survival," which are insufferable in nature and were included on Muse's LPs not because of their quality or context within the album, but because they were specifically manufactured to be showstopping, crowd-pleasing tunes during live performances. Furthermore, the band has been known to omit certain songs from their LPs simply due to them being "difficult" to perform on stage, leaving brilliant songs like "Futurism" (which would be later included on the reissue of Origin of Symmetry
) on the cutting room floor. Muse's The 2nd Law World Tour
, which began September of 2012, was touted as being their biggest and most "extravagant" live show yet. While the validity of these claims are debatable, the release of Live at Rome Olympic Stadium
, a live album with an accompanying video chronicling their performance at Stadio Olimpico in July of 2013, came as a surprise to no one.
Having seen Muse live in January, I can personally confide that their live shows live up to the most of their hype. Auditory aspects aside, their concerts are visual extravaganzas. Lasers shoot out of guitars during solos, televisions fly around the stage, pyrotechnics explode at the climax of their songs, etc. The band utilizes their venues in a variety of creative ways, and the immense energy each member displays never ceases to be entertaining. There is no denying that Muse concerts are made worthwhile by their visual aspects. Given that, there is no valid reason as to why the Live at Rome Olympic Stadium
CD needs to exist. Once all the spectacular visuals are removed from a Muse concert, what are you honestly left with?
Everything wrong with Live at Rome Olympic Stadium
can be summed up by its abysmal setlist. A frequent complaint people have when criticizing concerts they have attended is that the songs on the setlist were "predictable" or "safe." While the tracks on this album are rather predictable, the main issue with the setlist is the absence of songs from Origin of Symmetry
, the two albums regarded by most people (myself included) to be the band's greatest achievements. The only pre-2006 song to not receive a blatant snubbing is the hit single "Hysteria;" a superb song in and of itself but thrown into the album rather clunkily with a minute-long intro of what sounds like guitar feedback. Six out of the setlist's thirteen songs belong to The 2nd Law
; a forgivable offense considering that Live at Rome Olympic Stadium
was a concert played in the album's support. In addition to those songs, however, Muse opt to perform their chart-topping, pop-sellout singles rather than their time-tested classics such as "Citizen Erased" or "Stockholm Syndrome." Despite the success they have garnered over the years, songs like "Supermassive Black Hole," "Resistance," and "Starlight" pale in comparison to any given song on Origin of Symmetry
. The only surprise to be found here is that the song "Guiding Light," which is easily the worst track on the album The Resistance
, was included in the setlist. "Guiding Light" is a very strange inclusion; it is a painfully bland song that does not fit in well with any other track on the album. The only positive aspect of the setlist is that Muse were kind enough to spare their audience of "Survival" and The 2nd Law
's two title tracks. Still, having to sit through a horribly boring six-minute rendition of "Explorers" is nearly as bad.
If you consider yourself to be a hardcore fan of Muse's later output, by all means give Live at Rome Olympic Stadium
a listen. Quality of the songs being played aside, there is little technically wrong the album. Thanks to top-of-the-line recording equipment, the album's sound quality is only a notch below perfection. Between the instruments and the vocals, everything is expertly mixed. Although the cheering audience rarely detracts from the music, there are a small number cringe-worthy moments, such as when Matt Bellamy ad-libs a "f--k" during "Madness" and the crowd goes ballistic. Despite that, the album's sound surpasses expectations, and latter-day Muse fans who loved The Resistance
and The 2nd Law
will no doubt get their money's worth by purchasing this. If you do not fall into that category, however, you will find Live at Rome Olympic Stadium
to be of no redeeming value.