Back in April I had the privilege of experiencing Muse at the MEN Arena in Manchester towards the end of their worldwide sell out ‘Drones’ tour. With their reputation and having regularly been voted best live band in the world, you can imagine my anticipation and excitement leading up to the night.
Released in June 2015, the band’s 7th album ‘Drones’ was showcased with an on stage feast of both an audio and visual “sensory experience”. The trio of Matt Bellamy, Chris Wolstenholme and Dominic Howard performed on a rotating round stage in the centre of the arena, which allowed an inclusive 360 degree view for the eager audience. A narrow runway extended from either end of the centre stage across the length of the arena, making the view even better.
The set list included new ‘Drones’ tracks and classic Muse anthems including ‘Uprising’, ‘Starlight’ and my personal favourite ‘Plug In Baby’, which not surprisingly received the most emotive responses from the crowd.
Muse never hold back on the visuals, but this tour sure took that creativity to a completely new level! Other acts could easily have been overpowered by such theatricals, but not Muse. Without us knowing, the band made their way to the stage cleverly disguised in glowing riot police style costumes. Not long after we were greeted by the haunting sound of the ‘Muse Choir’, as suspended illuminated globe ‘drones’ rotated around the arena. The opening bars of ‘Reapers’ blasted out and finally (with flashing guitars) Muse exploded onto the stage.
The band are renowned for being technically brilliant, and in Manchester they didn’t disappoint. There were the usual searing vocals from Matt Bellamy, as well as one or two of his indulgent (but mesmerising) guitar solos. His mastery of the grand piano on certain tracks offered a softer dimension, which worked perfectly. Not to be left out of the spotlight, Dominic Howard and Chris Wolstenholme performed an immaculate drum and bass solo during ‘Munich Jam’; something only Muse could pull off so effortlessly.
Throughout the two hours we were treated to amazing light displays and 360 degree mesh canopies with projected images, including the band being turned into puppets on screen with their strings being pulled by handlers (during ‘The Handler’). To top it all off, a giant mock military war plane circled the arena at one point later on in the show, to great effect.
For the traditionalists, there were the familiar giant illuminated confetti filled balloons and one or two smashed guitars being flung around by Matt Bellamy!
Streamers and confetti blasted out during a rousing rendition of ‘Mercy’, before the show was brought to a traditional close with a pulsating performance of ‘Knights of Cydonia’, producing a spectacular climax to a show that I can only describe as ‘out of this world’.