Attending 4 out of 5 nights in London, I experienced 8 squashed tube journeys, waited 12 hours to get a view from the standing barrier twice, witnessed 2 drone malfunctions and caught 1 guitar pic, all on one epic tour.
Think of your most precious gig moments then compare them with spectacular strobe lighting, grand visuals of a dystopian future of mass destruction, live projections of the band on stage, an in-the-round stage that moves 360 degrees and frighteningly realistic inflatable drones and reapers.
Now, that’s something you don’t experience at your average rock gig, but I guess that’s just your average Muse gig.
Read on for my experience of Muse’s Drones Tour.
An arena full of avid Muse fans awaited the epic show ahead; pleasing this crowd of diverse but loyal Musers would be a challenge to any support act. Though, New Yorkers, Phantogram, had comfortably faced the crowds 20+ times before, so they performed with a confidence unseen in most support acts.
The duo played favourable tracks, ‘Fall in Love’ and ‘Howling At The Moon’ from their latest album, ‘Voices’. Sarah Barthel bounced around the stage, exuding an authentic passion for the beats Josh Carter and co. played. Fans welcomed the calls to clap as Phantogram provided a light but likable set, greatly balancing the grand performance to come.
Beginning and ending the show with a dozen eerie Drones descending into the crowd, the O2 looked more like an expensive set for sci-fi show ‘Doctor Who’ than a rock gig. As the operatic acapella track, ‘Drones’ filled the arena, there was a quiet moment of awe at the first technical spectre of the night. The final echo of ‘Amen’ from the playback penetrated the arena, forcing the crowd into a euphoric wave of excitement as the band finally took to the stage.
Starting off heavy with crowd-pleasing rockers ‘Psycho’ and ‘Reapers’, Muse began the show that effortlessly enthralled one’s senses. At £70+ a ticket, it was definitely worth the expense for an interesting night out. If the epic lighting, ubiquitous drones, and live projections didn’t impress, watching Matt Bellamy take to the grand piano during rare performances of ‘Citizen Erased’ and Muse’s rendition of ‘Feeling Good’ were bound to keep anyone amazed.
The magnitude of the show brought a record-breaking 21,000 fans along, beating U2’s record for the largest crowd turn out. Topping U2 crowds, matching the theatrical musical heights of Queen and staging on par with Pink Floyd’s ‘The Wall’ tour. With legendary name drops like this, their gigs have to be nothing less than epic.
Critics who claimed the huge production compromised crowd connection were perhaps too captivated by the visuals to notice the intimate moments of the show. On the last date, a few Musers tired of waiting for the show to start and started an infectious Mexican wave which spread from the standing fans to those seated in the highest tier.
In between the songs, bassist Chris Wolstenholme, and drummer, Dom Howard provided light entertainment for the cheering crowd as they attempted to the burst the bouncing Hullaballoons.
On their seventh studio album, Muse have grown drastically apart from their humble Devon roots: from ‘playing in every toilet’ on their debut album, ‘Showbiz’ to casually selling out tickets to the biggest crowd the O2 has housed. Muse’s (or Matt Bellamy’s) ambitious endeavour mostly paid off, despite a few technical glitches here and there (i.e. the crash of the helium-inflated reaper).
With a tour this excessive, expensive and ambitious, there was bound to be a few malfunctions. Nevertheless, Muse are back, with a bigger stage than they’ve ever had. Beating their own records for the stage production, who knows how Muse will put on a spectacular show on the stages of Glastonbury this summer?