EVEN by their bombastic standards, its safe to say Muse outdid themselves on their 2013 summer stadium tour.
The band entertained Europe’s stadiums with an enormous production bettering their previous stagecraft, and wowing audiences up and down the continent.
To celebrate this, the band have decided to document a show from this leg for the ages. Filmed at what Muse described as “our best gig of the year”, the show at the Rome Olympic Stadium was filmed with 4K HD cameras, with the intent to show it at cinemas with a screen resolution four times clearer than standard HD.
Sadly, not every cinema this was shown at has been equipped with these screens yet. But even on a standard screen, the show still looks spectacular.
The band’s entrance is certainly huge, with paranoid newsreaders and chanting robots leading to an enormous burst of fire in the middle of the stadium. All this then leads into opener Supremacy, and further bursts of fire and white smoke into the Italian sky.
Its bombastic in person, but as a piece of film, it wouldn’t have looked out of place in the showing of Gravity taking place next door. Its easy to see the huge scale here, where the screens at the gig appear to tower over the stadium roof.
But amidst the bombast, its the little moments from the band that work too even in such a huge format. Singer Matt Bellamy looks like he’s having the time of his life, grinning wildly at this bandmates and certainly having fun chasing the aerial cameras during the opening riff to Plug in Baby, and again during the monstrous solos to Olympic anthem Survival.
Further back, drummer Dominic Howard – the member who always wanted to be in a stadium rock act – looks like he’s having the time of his life, hammering out the foundations for his band’s tunes and even closing off the show in a bright red ninja suit.
The stadium rock environment Muse now entertain for their job now includes some unusual performance art, which is given prominence in a split screen format. Animals is accompanied by sadist bankers and concludes with the stadium being showered in customised Muse money while one dies on the B-stage, while a few songs later, a woman oil trader shouts down a phone before drinking from a yellow petrol pump and dying by the end of Feeling Good.
The latter is certainly just too weird. But its not the only weird moment, particularly when you consider the band cut out big hitters like Map of the Problematique and Stockholm Syndrome despite them being played live at the actual show. Of course, this doesn’t include the exclusion of older highlights like Bliss, Dead Star, Sunburn and a number of others oldies played elsewhere on the stadium tour.
This particular weirdness is not confined to the oldies. Although Chris Wolstenholme does get his time to shine with the titanic bassline to Hysteria, his own song Liquid State is relegated to being a DVD extra. Also cut is Unsustainable, save for a brief snippet of the robot that wasn’t edited out and a lengthy cut over the end credits.
Considering this was filmed on “The Unsustainable Tour” and the song had a giant 16ft robot specially ordered for the song, the exclusion just feels insane.
It is particularly bizarre when you consider the fact the awful Guiding Light keeps its place, although the song is redeemed fractionally when an acrobat dances in the air after being released from a light bulb orbiting the venue.
Nevertheless, there’s still plenty of big hitters on show, and some impressive filmmaking skills bring the show to life. The familiar but massive Time is Running Out and Knights of Cydonia have beautiful long-shots of what appears to be the entire stadium going bananas, while Supremassive Black Hole and Uprising ooze funky rock riffs that make you want to defy cinema etiquette so you can get up and dance.
But the aim seems to be to document the crowd as much as Muse themselves. Crowd shots litter the production – some unintentionally hilarious, but most simply show cheering, joyous faces. This feeling is given prominence for Undisclosed Desires, as Bellamy high-fives the front row.
The gig eventually ends with Starlight, which felt anticlimactic live as a closer but here feels like a final celebration of everything that has gone before.
For all its faults with song choice, this is still a classy documentation of a monumental tour, and with crisp sound and visuals, its certainly very impressive on its own merits.
Let’s hope next time it matches this with the band remembering to bring the big hitters.