“It’s not even their best album!” they mewl. “We want Ver Hits!” they troll. “Waste of a headline set!” they weep, wail and whimper. Pah! We thought the Reading & Leeds crowd were rock’n’roll gladiators of the stoutest mettle, willing to endure the most challenging conditions in the name of The Rock, be it a five hour wait for Axl Rose to have the mother of all pre-gig wanks or yet another set by Taking Back Sunday.
But no sooner do Muse let on that they’re planning to play their entire 2001 album ‘Origin Of Symmetry’ during their headline slot in order to lay that decade-old period of their career (largely) to rest than the internet goes into a pouty-lipped hissy fit that it might not get ‘Supermassive Black Hole’. Again.
Personally, I think it’s a brilliant use of a R&L headline slot. If you’ve been even slightly interested in seeing the ‘Resistance’-plus-hits set Muse have been touring since 2009 you’ve had a televised Glastonbury 2010, an arena tour and two Wembley Stadiums to catch it. R&L is practically a club show to Muse now, and it’s testament to their refusal to churn out the same show twice that they’re turning it into an Event Gig: unmissable for the Muse faithful and a historic ‘I was there’ moment for the passing Strokes fan.
You can understand their reasoning. ‘Origin…’ is something of a lost semi-classic in the Muse canon but, as something of a mixed bag, it’s an album they’ll happy to put behind them as quasi-juvenilia. Capturing the peak of their hedonistic party years and all the mania and unfocussed ambition that entailed, it was the album that saw them perfect their opera-pop punch but, in its latter half, only partially realize the sprawling space-epic possibilities they’d finally nail on ‘Knights Of Cydonia’, ‘Butterflies & Hurricanes’ and ‘The Resistance’’s ‘Exogenesis’ song suite. It was a dizzying upward turn in their stratospheric learning curve, but it does stand as their flawed trial run; their Pickwick Papers, their Titus Andronicus, their Ali G In Da House.
Yes, I too would rather it were ‘Absolution’ or ‘Black Holes…’ getting a full airing, but Muse would rather be remembered long-term for those albums, where they firmly nailed it rather than half-fumbled the hammer. And ‘Origin…’’s wake will no doubt be a spectacular affair to make Hunter S Thompson being shot into space from a cannon look like the flushing of a fair-won goldfish. While non-believers may scoff at the histrionic falsettos of ‘Hyper Music’ or the ponderous pretensions of ‘Megalomania’, there’ll be enough blam and blaze to stun them silent while the faithful get their prog-opera rocks off. What, you’d rather have some well-heeled guff off ‘The Resistance’ than a slew of red-hot rarities?
And let’s not forget, the first half of ‘Origin…’ – ‘New Born’, ‘Bliss’, ‘Plug In Baby’, ‘Citizen Erased’ – is stone cold, encore worthy Muse in excelsis and ‘Feeling Good’’s only a few Riffs Of Apollo away.
So pop away for a Badger’s Bumcheek burger for half an hour after ‘Micro Cuts’ if you must, but hurry back for the hour of hits and spaceships at the end. Then at least you can tell the grandkids you were half there…