Muse opened Rock In Rio 2018 in Lisbon last night (June 23) with a scorching set stripped of their trademark production gimmickry but brimming with hi-octane rock spectacle.
Without even an intro tape, the three-piece took to a stage containing only a drumkit, keyboard and minimal strips of video screen, and delivered an almighty career-spanning set that effortlessly confirmed their status as the greatest live band in rock.
Opening with their most recent single ‘Thought Contagion’, Muse piled into an early slew of monster hits including ‘Psycho’ from their most recent ‘Drones’ album and fan classics ‘Hysteria’ and ‘Plug In Baby’, dropping in riffs from Rage Against The Machine’s ‘Know Your Enemy’ and AC/DC’s ‘Back In Black’ between songs as Matt Bellamy strutted along the ego ramp swinging his guitar like a battle axe.
The set dropped into minimalist electronica for the ‘Tubular Bells’-like ‘The 2nd Law: Isolated System’, led by drummer Dom Howard on electronic drums, and included a spot of android glam rock in the shape of recent single ‘Dig Down’. Then Muse ramped up a mid-set frenzy with ‘Resistance’, ‘Supermassive Black Hole’ and ‘Stockholm Syndrome’, with Matt in full freak-out mode, throwing in the five-note refrain from Close Encounters Of The Third Kind, playing his guitar’s in-built luminous Kaoss pad with his tongue and firing out solo torrents on his knees before kicking his guitar across the stage.
The final segment of the main set focussed on their poppier moments, with Matt wearing his famous video sunglasses displaying the lyrics during ‘Madness’ and running to a secondary platform by the sound desk as moon balloons were released during ‘Starlight’. Ribbon cannons and ticker tape explosions erupted during ‘Time Is Running Out’ and ‘Mercy’, but the tone turned darker for the encore. ‘Take A Bow’ proved admonishment of political despots, while Matt left the crowd to sing the first revolutionary chorus of ‘Uprising’. The show ended with a brilliantly savage ‘Knights Of Cydonia’, turning the crowd into a thrashing throng of neon wands.
Earlier on the first day of Rock In Rio – a festival which began life in Rio De Janeiro in 1985 but has since been held Lisbon, Madrid and Las Vegas – Portuguese Pop Idol winner Diogo Piçarra opened the main stage bill with a set of glossy R&B and bursts of intense rave pop, a stage full of flag-waving dancers and guest spots by local hero Marco Rodrigues and Brazilian folk pop duo Anavitoria.
Haim ended the world tour for last year’s second album ‘Something To Tell You’ on Rock In Rio’s main stage, with the trio taking the stage with an on-theme Brazilian drum rampage before launching into an hour of rousing country pop, Fleetwood Mac radio rock and glitchy R&B. Alana Haim roused the crowd with upbeat emotional speeches about sisterly love and “hard times” and perfectly honed tunes such as ‘Falling’, ‘Want You Back’ and ‘The Wire’. Bastille provided main support, performing a new song called ‘Quarter Past Midnight’ alongside ‘Pompeii’, ‘Things We Lost In The Fire’ and ‘Of The Night’ their mash-up of SNAP!’s ‘Rhythm Is A Dancer’ and Corona’s ‘Rhythm Of The Night’. Dan Smith also described ‘The Currents’ as “a big ‘fuck you’ to people like Donald Trump”.
The two-weekend festival continues today (June 24) with a headline set by Bruno Mars and performances by Demi Lovato, Anitta and Agir. The festival then continues the following weekend, with headline sets from Katy Perry and The Killers.