Wednesday, 30 June 2010

The band of their generation

In a break from tradition, this a post about music that has nothing to do with any Icelandic people. Muse recently played at Glastonbury again, putting in a performance that shows why they deserve all those Best Live Band in the World awards. It was a relentless succession of the biggest songs from over a decade of albums, a huge crowd-pleasing rock show. Its been said that whenever Muse turn up at a festival they overshadow everyone else with the fireworks and sheer scale of their set, but they always belong on the big stage. There's a confidence about their playing that you don't find in most bands - they frequently add half-improvised sections at the end of songs just for the fun of it and leave whole verses for the crowd to sing. And they can switch to quiet, spacier moments without missing a beat. They weren't there to promote their newest album, they played all the songs that everyone wanted to hear - from 'Citizen Erased' to 'Resistance', from 'Time is Running Out' to 'Uprising'. The surprise arrival of U2's The Edge (why is he called The Edge?), whose own band couldn't play the night before because of the singer's broken back, produced an excellent cover of a classic song I'd never heard before. The only song that failed to impress was the dull-in-comparison 'Undisclosed Desires', a recent R&B effort which is fine is isolation but has no place in this set.

This is a band at the top of their game. From the release of Showbiz in 1999 each album has increased in size and ambition, culminating in grand three-part symphony to end their latest album. And the themes of the songs have evolved to encompass a broad and slightly insane world of conspiracy and science-fiction. Although, to be fair, this band has always been sci-fi. Every piece of artwork shows the stars, the sky, the planets. They'd play on the moon if they could. Some people might call them overblown, too big - but you don't listen to Muse to relax. They're not meant to be calm. And as a whole they work wonderfully, though it's clear where the heart of the band is. Dom Howard (drums) and Chris Wolstenholme (bass) are excellent musicians, but they must be pleased they know Matt Bellamy. It's fair to say they'd be nowhere with him. Songwriter, vocals, lead guitar, piano - all done effortlessly. He's the creative force behind the band and where much of the attention usually goes. Commonly described as one of the finest rock guitarists ever, he also has a powerful falsetto and amazing classical piano-ability to go with it. And instead of letting it all get to him he still seems completely humble, almost not aware of how big the band have become and determined to not become, in his own words, 'a tit'. They're described as the band of their generation. They're quite good. And they're not even Icelandic.

1 comment:

  1. That was awesome listening, thank you! house of the Rising Run is a favorite.