Muse : Paris: Bercy: Tuesday November 18

Muse's bombastic space-rock blazes a trail to the far reaches of the rock universe

“EEET’S TAAAAAAAYM FOR SOMETHANG BIBLICAAAAAL!!!” [a]Muse[/a] howls like a soul being flung towards damnation, crashing chords like the first torrents of the Great Flood from a light-up Close Encounters piano, his last desperate plea to the mothership to beam him up. Universes are born and die on the screens behind him, 18,000 Parisian heretics drown him with screams as if [a]Justin Timberlake[/a] is headlining armageddon. Take off the roof and the sky would be on fire. Welcome, sinners, to the Big Bang At The End Of Rock.

Tonight Paris’ humungous Bercy arena will plead for apocalypse, howl for hysteria and sing for absolution, but mostly it will gaze in awe upon the monumental extinction event that [a]Muse[/a] have become. There’s no time here to detail the complex mathematical precepts behind the ‘String Theory’ of parallel dimensional astro-physics (we’ll save that for the next [a]Jet[/a] feature), but Matt ‘Mad As A Mink’ Bellamy has clearly mastered it and used it to tear the universe a new wormhole direct to the ultimate conclusion of guitar music. This is galaxies away from the usual indie arena experience of 2003 – rattly little garage bands struggling to fill the big sheds or cock-rock fakers wheeling out the glitter cannons and spandex underpants of their hair-fathers. No, this is all the inherent pomp, power, pretention and portent of Freddie-sized meteor rock taken deadly – nay mortally – seriously. It’s the sound of pop metal reaching critical mass, the bombastic Judgement Day of Doomrock. In excelsis.

Basically we’re saying they piss on [a]Athlete[/a] and, unsurprisingly, prompt nothing short of Musemania. For the opening requiem triptych (it seems sacreligious to call them ‘songs’: the android army death march of ‘Apocalypse Please’, the savage “I want it now!” guzzlepunk of ‘Hysteria’, the classico-metal operetta that is ‘Newborn’) even Bellamy’s Maria Callas-gone-schitz warbling is lost beneath a shriek of proper teenpop bonkerdom that makes Bercy feel like an infernal holding camp for the damned. And, as ‘Thoughts Of A Dying Atheist’ (those thoughts in full: “SHIT! I’M DYING!”) blasts by trailing a comet tail of fiery hooklines, it’s clear that [a]Muse[/a] are operating not just at the height of their powers but at the furthest extremes of their genre. ‘Absolution’ – rightly dominating the set tonight – is alone in orbit while all other rock albums of 2003 are scrabbling for clues in the primordeal swamp, and why? Because Bellamy delves back through centuries of climactic music to Wagner, Holzt and Bach rather than getting as far as the first [a]Black Sabbath[/a] album before having to stop to shoot up. By tempering ‘Origin Of Symmetry’’s wild histrionics with nailgun hooks, a sparking electro nous and riffs unearthed from the cores of volcanoes, Muse have made their ‘Dark Side Of The Moon’ meets ‘The Ride Of The Valkyries’; a rock album utterly free of the puny parameters of what we Earthlings call ‘rock’n’roll’. To compare