Review: Muse give jaw-dropping performance at Bristol's Ashton Gate

PUBLISHED: 18:38 06 June 2019 | UPDATED: 19:21 06 June 2019

Muse frontman Matt Bellamy   Picture: Sarah Smith

Muse frontman Matt Bellamy Picture: Sarah Smith

Sarah Smith

Muse have a reputation for being one the worlds greatest live acts.

muse at Ashton Gate Stadium   Picture: Sarah Smithmuse at Ashton Gate Stadium Picture: Sarah Smith

After their jaw-dropping performance at Bristol's Ashton Gate stadium last night (Wednesday) I would have to agree.

The date, part of the band's worldwide arena tour for their latest album Simulation Theory was the closest thing the boys from Teignmouth had to a homecoming gig, and what a gig, presenting a mesmerising neon dystopia complete with lasers, robots and HAZMAT suit clad ninjas.

The evening kicked off with a set from Manchester indie synph-pop makers Pale Waves, before legendary guitarist, and Rage Against The Machine co-founder Tom Morello took to the stage.

Morello, went on to play a selection of Rage classics, including Sleep Now In The Fire and Bulls On Parade.

MuseMuse at Ashton Gate Stadium   Pictture: Sarah SmithMuseMuse at Ashton Gate Stadium Pictture: Sarah Smith

He also paid a touching tribute to Audioslave bandmate Chris Cornell, with a spirited rendition of Like a Stone using Cornell's vocal track.

Never one to shy away from making a statement, the back of Morello's guitar had '**** Farage' written on it.

Morello ended his superb set by bringing on members of Bristol tenant Union Acorn, to help sing 'traditional celtic hymn', my favourite Christmas number one - Killing In The Name Of, and a cover of John Lenon's Power To The People.

Onto Muse, where to begin? Announcing his arrival with a cyberpunk marching band, Muse frontman Matt Bellamy rose up onto an island in the middle of the packed arena, decked in an LED laden jacket and a pair of shades which made him look like a living meme, as he crooned his way through opening number Algorithm, and remained their latest single Pressure, before marching up the catwalk while belting out the opening riff to anti-war masterpiece Psycho, which saw the marching band become militarised as they declared their allegiance to a terrifying skeletal robot head.

Muse at Ashton Gate Stadium   Pictture: Sarah SmithMuse at Ashton Gate Stadium Pictture: Sarah Smith

Some bands might have one big set piece, but every track Muse played, flawlessly may I add, brought with it another phenomenal spectacle, from HAZMAT-suited acrobats descending down the humongous video screen which shadowed the band during Break It To Me, to an incredible laser show which kicked off once the sun went down.

While the iconic Plug In Baby, Hysteria, and Uprising, were marked with mass sing-alongs.

When the streamers and confetti cannons went off at the end of Mercy I thought, this has to be the end, but for Muse it was merely the half way point as they unleashed a gigantic skeletal cyborg.

It was absolutely mind-blowing, one minute it was on the screen, the next it was on the stage.

A neon marching band heralded the arrival of Muse at Ashton Gate Stadium  Picture: Sarah SmithA neon marching band heralded the arrival of Muse at Ashton Gate Stadium Picture: Sarah Smith

This rampant digital monster, the love child of Judge Death and Iron Maiden mascot Eddie - clawing and biting, come to enslave us all, a sentiment which ran through the whole show and one I feel, somewhat ironically, was completely lost on the swaythes of gig-goers viewing most of the night via their phones.

The spectacle would have been for naught if it weren't for Bellamy's expert showmanship, and the musicianship of the entire band, which was staggering, never dropping a note, combined with Bellamy's haunting voice and lyrics, often as biting as they are touching, especially during incredible turns during the dream-like ballad Starlight, which saw him drop to his knees while crooning through its touching, yet melancholic chorus.

Meanwhile, Chris Wolstenholme's custom double necked bass combined with a tablet provided not only the incredible synth powered bass line to Madness, but showed the sheer inventiveness of the band, one which continue to break new ground with each new release and have a sound which no other band have ever managed to replicate (though many have tried).

An incredible night ended with Muse playing their epic Western space opera Knights Of Cydonia,

Oh, and unleashing dozens of giant white and black balloons into the crowd, because why not?

As they bowed out the band promised they would be back next year, but after a performance like that I was left wondering, how do they ever top that?

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