Muse : Imola Jammin’ Festival

They need a roof. Or rain. Or walls to bounce off. Preferably lined with rubber...

Twelve hours ago Muse were rattling around their London rehearsal studio, kicking new songs into shape and playing badminton – which is their sport of

choice. In 40 minutes they’ll be arriving at the Heineken Jammin’ Festival in Imola. And it is hot. Damn hot. England v Nigeria hot. NME will spend most of the gig wanging Red Cross supplied plasma-bags of drinking water into the crowd. If these 50,000 Italian rock fans were dogs, most of them would already be dead.

Muse step onstage and drummer Dom Howard takes one look at the enormous crowd, clenches his buttocks and mutters “Fuck me!”. Much as he did last week at Pink Pop in Holland. Much as he still does every time Muse play to more than two students and a poodle.

This is not the time or the place to seeMuse. They need a roof. Or rain. Or walls to bounce off. Preferably lined with rubber. Two minutes before they appear, the crowd are merrily singing along to one of Kurt Cobain’s manic depressive epics. Two minutes later they are nodding their heads and muttering “mmmm, molto profundo!” as Matt attacks the intricate cod-classical keyboard coda intro to ‘Space Dementia’.

Now if you were Muse – under these sweltering circumstances – you’d do an England v Denmark job – bang in three early-doors crowd-pleasers and then shut up shop. And take it easy. ButMuse, dressed (utterly unsuitably) like a Vietcong gonks and running around like Senegalese strikers on superspeed – have decided to play not one, not two, but FOUR new (as yet untitled) songs. Inevitable moments of fumble-thumbed fuckuppery ensue. And all the new songs sound like Hawkwind fronted by a castrated choirboy auditioning for ‘Amadeus – The Rock Musical’. Which it to say they sound likeMuse. Especially ‘New’, which has a riff like a thousand bomber raid on a Nazi ball-bearing plant.

Only heavier.

As the scorching sun finally starts to set and Musereach yet another of their crazy crescendos, Bellamy jabs his silver axe upwards. A huge white balloon floats overhead, bursts and showers the stage in giant bits of glitter. As gimmicks go it is both cheap and amusing. And wonderfully rock’n’roll.

Steven Wells