Mostly, it's been weird...
We’ll get to Muse later, but firstly today has not been a good day for [a]JJ72[/a]. It could’ve been a great day. A
hometown show, a big stage, a partisan crowd and a support slot with one of
their keenest contemporary rivals and instrument-smashing peers. The scene
was set, and the lighting was perfect, but it was not to be. They have no
back-line. Yes folks, the guitars and drums and big silver boxes are
languishing lost in Heathrow, or gobbled up by a tornado somewhere over
Devon. But they soldier on, or, at least, pixie indie pin-up Mark Greaney
does. See, Mark‘s got the tunes and the wailing larynx, and he can bash out
some rough-cut versions on the old acoustic, get a bit of a sing-song going,
a pat on the head, and stride off knowing he’s done his best under trying
But it’s not as simply as that. A good hearty strum-a-long through ‘October
Swimmer’ is in full effect, and then suddenly, “TWOOONNNGGG”, string breaks.
Oh dear. There’s some confusion, some ruffling about backstage. Mark returns
with new guitar, apologises, and off he goes again. But it’s all a bit flat.
He sings ‘Snow’. But it’s lost. He plays ‘Oxygen’. But where’s the bluster
and boom? Meanwhile, the kids are loving all this. He swings the guitar
around the stage, and they shout “Smash it!” But he’s only teasing. “I would
do”, he says, “but it’s not mine, I borrowed it from Matt from Muse“. So
much for the rivalry, so. And so much for the rebellion. But Mark is
cheered, not jeered, off-stage. In fact, you get the impression that if he
farted into the microphone for five minutes, they’d still shout for an
Nonetheless, the show now belongs to Muse, and they don’t hold back,
literally stomping onto the stage with furious venom. Matt Bellamy wrings
his guitar neck like he’s strangling a chicken (and, no, of course that’s
not a reference to either his or Greaney‘s voice). And from the opening
prog-rock-flamenco-metal romp of ‘Uno’, this whole set feels like we’ve
gatecrashed a private exorcism. The crowd are pogoing, moshing, surfing,
but onstage, Muse are doing their own thing, fighting their own demons,
rendering their verse-chorus-verse/ quiet-loud-quiet tunes into sheets of
distortion pillaging metal.
‘Sunburn’ is thunderous. ‘Unintended’ is unfiltered negative energy rock,
complete with scary/silly falsetto. There’s at least three new ones in
there somewhere, beneath the self-loathing din, on/off flickering references
to Nirvana, Buckley, Radiohead, and, er, Peter Frampton. They finish with
‘Showbiz’, Bellamy‘s bony, pointy frame flying around the stage like a
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possessed skeleton, Chris Wolstenholme bent 90 degrees over an overloaded
bass, and Dominic Howard impetuously kicking over his drums one by one. It’s
been theatrical. It’s been angsty. It’s been sometimes dull. Sometimes
great. But mostly, it’s been weird.