Muse celebrated a no-frills show for War Child at the Shepherd’s Bush Empire last night by smashing guitars into drumkits, tightrope-walking along piano keyboards and giving away instruments to the sold-out crowd.
The gig was watched by a star-speckled audience including One Direction’s Harry Styles, singer Rita Ora and model Cara Delevingne.
The 90-minute gig, which saw support from The Vaccines and marked the 20th anniversary of the charity, also included the first performance of fan favourite ‘Dead Star’ since 2010 and, fans concluded, harked back to chaotic early sets before Muse ascended to arenas.
Introduced by XFM’s John Kennedy on behalf of War Child, the show was opened by The Vaccines racing through a half-hour set including a super-speed ‘If You Wanna’, a wobbly ‘Wetsuit’ and a crooner take on ‘Post Break-Up Sex’. Wrapping up with ‘Norgaard’ as singer Justin Young loped lop-sidedly around the stage, The Vaccines managed to cram 10 songs into a taut 33 minutes.
The Vaccines played:
‘Wreckin’ Bar (Ra Ra Ra)’
‘I Always Knew’
‘Post Break-Up Sex’
‘All In White’
‘If You Wanna’
Clad in bright punk-style T-shirts, Muse hit a stage stripped of their usual stadium effects – although they did bring their own impressive PA system, light-up guitars and keyboard stand and a silver box amp made to look like Wall-E’s face. “Fuck off all the faff,” said Matt Bellamy, adding: “It costs too much.”
Opening with ‘Supremacy’ and requesting “some friendly crowd surfing”, Muse played an 18-song set which included Chris giving away his harmonica to a member of the front row after his ‘Man With A Harmonica’ intro to ‘Knights Of Cydonia’, Matt end ‘United States Of Eurasia’ by walking along his piano keyboard and responded to guitar problems during ‘Plug In Baby’ by throwing his silver guitar through Dom’s bass drum, beating his Wall-E amp with it and finally throwing it over the drumkit, demolishing half of it. The antics were reminiscent of shows Muse played around their 2001 ‘Origin Of Symmetry’ album although only one song from the setlist dated from that period (1999’s ‘Sunburn’).
The band used the tiny, stripped-down set to play much of their recent album ‘The 2nd Law’ as well as rarity ‘Dead Star’, introduced by Matt saying, “What song do you want? Okay, we’ll try to play ‘Dead Star’ for you.” The only remnant from their current arena stage show to make an appearance was Matt’s pair of sunglasses which play the lyrics to ‘Madness’ in dot-matrix on the lenses. The band were willing to improvise too, with Dom attempting to play the drums for final song ‘Survival’ while wearing a plastic horse’s head thrown onstage by a fan.
‘Supermassive Black Hole’
‘Knights of Cydonia’
‘United States of Eurasia’
‘Plug In Baby’
‘Time Is Running Out’