When news broke that a certain stadium band were going to be playing as intimate a set of gigs as we’ll probably ever see, I had to get a ticket – or two. Muse – a worldwide brand who are known for their stage production just as much as their anthemic output these days – were stopping off at the Barras for one night only. We knew it wasn’t going to be all pyrotechnics and trapeze artists. We knew it was going to be much better than that.
Before Muse hit the stage we had the pleasure of seeing Marmozets strut their stuff in a support slot that came out of nowhere for the fresh-faced band from Yorkshire. Marmozets are a band who split opinion and I, for one, have never been their biggest fan. That said, after Monday evening my mind was somewhat changed. The offering of youthful energy, just the right amount of arrogance and last but not least, an obvious talent for what they do genuinely made me turnaround from the bar and wander over for a closer look. They’ll be pinching themselves each night of this tour but let it be said that they did a grand job in Glasgow with their upbeat, loud and catchy songs.
Enter Muse. New hit ‘Psycho’ getting things underway with “that riff” inducing a frenzy that saw the crowd surge forward and pints fly towards the famous Barras ceiling. ‘Psycho’ is a great track and hearing it in a live setting such as this monumental powerhouse of music was just magnificent. Things didn’t let up after that and it is definitely one of the most manic and excited crowds I’ve had the pleasure of being part of in a long time.
The Muse nostalgia trip was kicked off with a return to ‘Uno’, a track that had been played for the first time in around fifteen years in Belfast the night prior to this. Every word of it belted back to Bellamy et al by the living, moving mass in front of them. This wasn’t something exclusive to that track either, pretty much every word of every song was given the same treatment from that moment to the last.
It was clear from early on that tonight wasn’t going to be a showcase for new and unheard tracks from pending album Drones. Nope, tonight was all about celebrating a stellar lineup of hit songs that even my granny would probably have heard at some point. ‘Interlude’ and ‘Hysteria’ – two tracks that will never be played without the other – were book-ended by Origin Of Symmetry’s ‘Bliss’ and ‘Plug In Baby’ with its instantly recognisable intro sparking yet another burst of excitement from the crowd.
There wasn’t much of a dialogue between the band and those who were lucky enough to get hold of a metaphorical golden ticket. There was little need for it either, the musical performance was doing all the talking. In the grand scheme of things, this is far from the stadiums and arenas that Muse have become accustomed to filling and it couldn’t have worked out any better from their point of view. From the humming along to every note to the clap-along intro to ‘Starlight’ it seemed that they were feeding off an energy being fueled in a symbiotic circle of band and crowd.
Bellamy did dedicate ‘Uprising’ to those of the minority who voted Yes in the recent Independence vote which, a few months ago, may have turned things a little sour. Not tonight though, there was going to be no negatives here. That was right before Chris Wolstenholme puckered up and gave his rendition of Ennio Morricone’s ‘Man With a Harmonica’ – signalling the intro to ‘Knights of Cydonia’. It was at that point the springy floorboards of the Barras were put to the test by a two-thousand-strong mass of people jumping in unison. It survived, my ribs did not. Totally worth it.
After some time off the stage, Muse returned to treat us to not one, not two, but three encore songs. ‘Animals’, ‘Time Is Running Out’ and new album track ‘Reapers’ receiving the curtain-closing treatment and well deserved plaudits from a rather sweaty bunch of Glaswegians. The latter was being played in front of a crowd for only the second time and it is quite simply, a glorious piece of music. It fits the Muse mould with its screaming guitar solos and bass-driven rhythm. It’s actually got me thinking that Drones could be a better album than first expected.
In a single word, the gig was amazing. From the stripped back performance, the venue and the people who showed up to sing their lungs out and help build an atmosphere which will take some beating. I wonder if any other big names will see the successes of this and follow suit? I hope so.