Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Muse - Psycho Tour

If anyone asks me who my favourite band are, since I was about 13 years old, my answer has always been Muse (closely followed by David Bowie, if you were interested). I love rock music, but Muse have always stood out for me as their music is so different to anything else around - or at least that's how I felt when I first heard them and first fell in love with their sound.

I must have been about 10 years old when Showbiz was released, but it wasn't until I heard New Born and Plug in Baby from the 2001 Origin of Symmetry album that I knew they even existed. I'd just moved from primary to secondary school, and had made new friends who were into all different kinds of music. I'd grown up listening to bands like The Specials, Blondie, The Cure, The Cult, David Bowie... everything that my parents loved, which I'd grown to love too, but at a new friend's house one day after school, she introduced me to Kerrang's music channel and that was it. I went home that day with a list of bands that I needed to find albums for, and on that list were Muse.

14 years down the line, I am as big a fan as I ever have been. I've brought every album, and loved every one for it's uniqueness, although Origin of Symmetry will always be my favourite. I've been lucky to see them a handful of times over the years, including their real out of this world shows at Wembley Stadium and their headline slot at Glastonbury in 2010, but last week I was lucky enough to bag tickets to their little show at the Newport Centre.

I think that the smallest venue I'd seen them at before was the LG Arena in Birmingham, and until last week, that was my favourite Muse gig of the lot; they were promoting The 2nd Law album, I was with a great group of friends and we managed to get right near the front, singing and jumping around until our feet were sore and our voices hoarse.

But I think last week managed to top it; the Newport Centre makes for a very intimate gig with a capacity of around just 2,000 people. About two weeks ago, Muse announced the release date of their upcoming album Drones (due 8th June) along with just a handful of dates for small gigs the following week. I read the email announcing this the same morning the general tickets were due to go on sale, so I'd missed the fan club pre-sale, but myself and a colleage who had offered to try for me too were logged into Ticket Master ready to try and get tickets in the general sale. I didn't actually get through in the end, it was my colleague/supervisor Sheila that got through and managed to get me two tickets! I literally could not have loved her more that morning! Normally, you have to wait months (even years nowadays) for gigs to come round after you buy tickets, but with only a week to go until the gig itself, I was more excited than I'd been for anything in a long time.

Anyway, the day quickly came round, and James and I trundled off to Newport for the gig. This was the first gig I'd been to that had ticketless entry; staff on the doors scan your card that you used to purchase the tickets and give you a printed receipt that you use as entry - generally I think it's a good system as it means that touts can't buy and then re-sell tickets at an extremely inflated price; and it means that fans have a better chance of getting tickets at their face value. However, the machines that they were using seemed to be playing up and so it took a long time to get everyone at the sell out gig in through the doors.

The Marmozets were supporting, and although we missed the first couple of songs of their set, what we did catch was pretty good. They were quite 'shouty' for lack of a better word, but really got the crowd going and were very energetic - perfect for a support act to Muse.

As soon as The Marmozets went off stage, the butterflies started. James laughs at me when I get so excited about seeing bands I love live; he doesn't seem to get the same thrill as I do, but I can't help it!

Muse came on without a big dramatic entrance like they usually do, and opened with their new track Psycho, which I have become a little obsessed with. I was expecting the gig to be a preview of their new album, but I was so ecstatic when I found the next hour and a half to be filled with tracks spanning their entire back catalogue. We sang along the whole way through, and revelled in the stripped back set; they brought out their huge balloons full of confetti at the start, but other than that, there were no big augmented reality projections, no acrobats hanging from giant spaceships floating in the air, no paper money or rose petals showering the crowd... it was just the band, their fans and a very loud sound system. It felt so much more intimate, and personal - Matt Bellamy even dedicated a song to a guy that had requested it when they'd met outside before the show. We actually sat/stood on the balcony for a lot of it - it made a nice change to take a step back from the thick of the crowd and take it all in. The photos make it look like we were further back than we were too.

Although Muse are a band that I would (and hopefully will) watch again and again, and always enjoy it, I don't think that night can be topped. I think it's actually my favourite gig ever, and I'm super excited for the new album. I'm hoping that they'll tour again when it's released and a few more of my friends can get tickets too!

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