When an autocratic Prime Minister is prepared to turbo charge the UK towards a no-deal Brexit and the threat of food and medical supply shortages hangs over us like a looming Death Star, a dystopian future suddenly seems very real.
And of course, Muse frontman Matt Bellamy has been predicting our bleak destiny for years.
It’s uncanny how so many of the trio’s hits soundtrack 2019 tonight as they roll out their cinematic space opera at London’s O2. ‘Uprising’, ‘Propaganda’, ‘Hysteria’, ‘Psycho’, ‘Madness’ – they all terrifyingly fit the dark times we’re living in right now as the Government continues to piss on our future.
Thankfully, Muse not only free us from the shackles of the real world for two hours. They also offer us a shred of hope as 20,000 followers defiantly bellow back the words to the band’s alternative Doctor Who theme, ‘Uprising’: “They will not force us / They will stop degrading us / They will not control us / We will be victorious”.
Anyone who witnessed the Teignmouth trio’s recent ‘Simulation Theory’ stadium tour over the summer will be well aware of how grand and impressive the production of their set up is. The fact that they’re even trying to squeeze this intergalactic behemoth inside an arena seems preposterous. But amazingly, they pull it off. Even Murph, Muse’s giant robo-skeletal mascot, makes an appearance in all his monstrous glory by the end.
There is so much to come before that, though, as Matt Bellamy and co plunge us into a mind-bending space journey that cribs elements from almost every iconic sci-fi movie – be it Terminator, Aliens, Blade Runner or Close Encounters, the theme of which gets a geeky nod ahead of a stunning rendition of ‘Supermassive Black Hole.’
Coated in cyber punk LED shades, Bellamy is flanked by a marching troop of trombone players from the outset, before they give way to stormtroopers with Ghostbuster backpacks and giant robots, which look like they’ve been plucked straight out of Glastonbury’s Arcadia stage.
With a bulging back catalogue that could easily fill a space cruiser, the likes of ‘Starlight’, ‘Plug In Baby’, ‘Time Is Running Out’ and ‘Hysteria’ are greeted like old friends tonight, while ‘Simulation Theory’ cuts such as the synth-stabbing ‘Algorithm’ and the doom laden ‘Dark Side’ slot perfectly into the band’s dystopian vision.
A stripped-back ‘Dig Down’ which sees the whole band huddled together around a tiny second stage, makes for one of the show’s few tender moments, as does the mesmerising ‘Madness’.
Finishing up with a volley of techno-fear anthems (‘Stockholm Syndrome’, ‘Assassin’, ‘Reapers’, ‘The Handler’, ‘New Born’) the giant Murph finally makes his appearance, rising from the ground to engulf the band as Bellamy shreds his guitar like a wild animal.
Dark times these may be, but thank the stars we’ve still got Muse.
Muse’s setlist was:
‘Algorithm (Alternate Reality Version)’
‘Break It to Me’
‘Plug In Baby’
‘Pray (High Valyrian)’
‘The Dark Side’
‘Supermassive Black Hole’
‘The 2nd Law: Unsustainable’
‘Time Is Running Out’
‘Futurism’/’Unnatural Selection’/’Micro Cuts’
‘Take a Bow’
‘Stockholm Syndrome’/’Assassin’/’Reapers’/’The Handler’/’New Born’
‘Knights of Cydonia’