Muse at Mad Cool 2022: five supermassive highlights

Fire! Politics! Bangers! A robotic glove!

It’s day three of Mad Cool Festival 2022, and the battle-weary rock fans of Madrid have moshed their way through the likes of Metallica, Deftones, Imagine Dragons, Twenty One Pilots, Placebo, Foals and Fever 333. The time has come, though, to blast off: Muse are here to transport you away from Madrid to their dystopian rock opera in a galaxy far, far away.

Here’s what made it one of the most supermassive sets of the whole weekend.

Sticking it to the man

Putin’s war, attacks on women’s rights, BoJo’s endless twattery – now, more than ever, it feels impossible to imagine ever trusting those at the top. Muse, at least, have read the room. Arriving on stage in the hoods and metallic mirror masks of the rebel militia from their recent music videos, they make good on the title of their new album ‘The Will Of The People’ in giving the thousands gathered at the Mad Cool main stage exactly what they want, all while sticking it to the man.

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The upcoming album’s Queen-meets-RATM title track, the defiant ‘Won’t Stand Down’, the synthy power-pop of ‘Compliance’, feral newbie ‘Kill Or Be Killed’ and universal rallying cry ‘Uprising’ all add a sense of protest to tonight’s prog masterclass.

Muse at Mad Cool 2022. Credit: Andy Ford for NME
Muse at Mad Cool 2022. Credit: Andy Ford for NME

Saluting fellow rock gods

Muse formed as three grunge-obsessed teenage pals, jamming along to their idols to beat the boredom of sleepy seaside town life. Much of that spirit remains in their set today, belting out some fat riffs from Rage Against The Machine, Slipknot, AC/DC and Jimi Hendrix between songs – bringing some garage sesh vibes to the main stage.

Muse at Mad Cool 2022. Credit: Andy Ford for NME
Muse at Mad Cool 2022. Credit: Andy Ford for NME

The treats for the nerds

It would be all too easy to just bosh out the hits and go home, but bands truly worth their salt gotta give a little somethin’ somethin’ to the hardcore fans. Tonight, the ‘best of’ extravaganza is interrupted with the nice palette-cleansing a-Muse bouche (geddit?) of the spooky and elegant ‘Origin Of Symmetry’ B-side ‘The Gallery’ and the sombre lounge jazz of early rarity ‘Nishe’ – showcasing the rarely discussed more subtle side of Muse.

Muse at Mad Cool 2022. Credit: Andy Ford for NME
Muse at Mad Cool 2022. Credit: Andy Ford for NME

Behold, the glove!

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Bellamy takes a brief break from the stage as a synthy ‘80s interlude begins. The frontman then re-emerges with an LED-covered jacket and *adjusts spectacles* a robotic arm. Not just any robotic arm: this one comes complete with a built-in synth so he can play the space-age melodies of solo track ‘Behold, The Glove’ and the intro to ‘Uprising’ on his wrist. We arrived at Mad Cool 2022, but left in a strange, distant future.

Muse at Mad Cool 2022. Credit: Andy Ford for NME
Muse at Mad Cool 2022. Credit: Andy Ford for NME

The songs to match the silliness

A Muse show is often as much about the spectacle as anything else. A touring blockbuster production of visual wizardry and theatrics, they are rock’s answer to Cirque Du Soleil. Even if you turned off all the bells and whistles (for this tour, some stellar silhouettes for ‘Hysteria’, some riot-inspiring videos, pyro aplenty and a giant mirror-masked head that fills the back of the stage), Muse still deliver a barrage of back-to-back bangers.

There’s a gnarly outing of ‘Stockholm Syndrome’, the arena rock gems of ‘Time Is Running Out’, ‘Madness’, ‘Supermassive Blackhole’, ‘Plug In Baby’ and ‘Starlight’, and the ever-reliable closer of pomped-up rock odyssey ‘Knights Of Cydonia’. The Devon-via-another-galaxy trio provided a shamelessly daft delivery of endorphins and a convincing case from a band who are certainly among the contenders for the 21st century’s best festival headliners. They certainly got our vote for tonight, at least.

Muse at Mad Cool 2022. Credit: Andy Ford for NME
Muse at Mad Cool 2022. Credit: Andy Ford for NME

Muse played: 

‘Will of the People’
‘Interlude’
‘Hysteria’
‘Psycho’
‘Pressure’
‘Won’t Stand Down’
‘Stockholm Syndrome’
‘The Gallery’
‘Compliance’
‘Thought Contagion’
‘Time Is Running Out’
‘Nishe’
‘Madness’
‘Supermassive Black Hole’
‘Plug In Baby’
‘Behold, the Glove’
‘Uprising’
‘Prelude’
‘Starlight’
Encore:
‘Kill or Be Killed’
‘Knights of Cydonia’

Check back here at NME for the latest news, interviews, photos and more from Mad Cool 2022.

NME is an official media partner of Mad Cool Festival 2022

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