Regularly touted as one of the best live touring acts of their generation, Muse greet the run up to Christmas with the release of their second live album/DVD, ‘Live at Rome Olympic Stadium’.
Donning all the significant components of the Muse armoury in check, they rattle through 13 songs in just over an hour. Whether or not this completely translates on record will waver depending on the fondness for elongated introductions and crowd noise. Matt Bellamy wails like banshee whilst their musical theatricality breathes with its patented muscular dynamism. There are many highlights. The lonesome harmonica segment is a nice pause before an eruption into ‘Knights of Cydonia’; bursting into life with an unwinding and descending surf guitar figure reminiscent of Dick Dale or even Bellamy’s own father – The Tornados guitarist George Bellamy – as it kicks in with intensity.
Similarly, ‘Panic Station’ stands out, as does the plaintive ivory tinkling of ‘Explorers’. There are some clunkers though. ‘Guiding Light’ comes across as overcooked and bloated. For reasons best known to themselves, the CD version has opted to eschew any of their earliest material (the oldest cut here is Absolution’s ‘Hysteria’ from 2003).
In the main, what is on offer is a typically raucous set from the Teignmouth trio. There’s plenty ofimpressive musicianship, virtuosity and hummable songs, but there is also arguablya lack of any fragility that could translate into resonant transcendental emotion. Subtlety has long been missing from Muse’s output, but as an example of their live prowess, however, it is a pretty compelling document to show that they stand amongst the cream of the cropon the currentlive circuit.