Live at Stadio Olimpico, Rome, Italy, July 6, 2013
csc501, on july 10, 2013 2 of 2 people found this review helpful
Sound: Muse certainly have an appreciation of the different dynamics possible with live sound over recorded tracks, and used this to great effect on tracks like "Supremacy" and "The 2nd Law: Unsustainable" to add additional drama to the performance. As usual, the sound was quality near enough impeccable, the performance wasn't quite flawless however - uncharacteristically there were a few vocal section not being picked up by the mics, in the middle section of Feeling Good, part of "Explorers" and the beginning of "Follow Me." Also they were omitted entirely from "Unsustainable," which weakened this song significantly.
The other big disappointment for this show is that on over half a dozen tracks Bellamy opted to sing only - leaving the guitar/piano behind. This meant that the sound in these songs had less punch, either being played by set musicians or by Chris (at which point you have the same effect on the bass being played by set musicians) and was much closer to the recorded track. // 7
Perfomance: 01. "Supremacy" - Brilliant opener, merged in with the opening from Unsustainable which ended with a blast from the largest flamethrower you will ever safely come into proximity with! It was more like an explosion, and you could feel the heat wave pulse through the stadium. Simultaneously the stage changed into a sort of industrial flux capacitor that greeted the start of the song. Played excellently and a great live tune. Would've liked to see some improvisation though.
02. "Panic Station" - Also great, and backed by a video of various world leaders - including the Pope (in Rome) - dancing to the track.
03. "Plug in Baby" - an unexpected foray into the "retired" "OoS" album, got the whole stadium going.
04. "Map of the Problematique" - Another unexpected treat, and one of their best songs, more understated, songs. Improvisation from previous tours wasn't played for some reason, with a performance true to the track instead.
05. "Resistance" - the First Act of Bellamy's no instruments dance one hand on the mic, the other sincerely clutching his chest... It is a vocally driven song so it wasn't much of a loss, but odd to see him not playing the song himself.
06. "Animals" - This was backed to a board room video specially made, and designed to show mankind's animalistic greed. At the end the main character appears on stage and hurls (fake) money into the crowd. It worked well made this song on the better ones.
07. "Knights of Cydonia" - awesome live beginning with the harmonica, great performance throughout, near enough the entire stadium was bouncing to this one, and will be a DVD highlight. Misses out on a ten as the improvised endings played at other live performance were again not featured here.
08. "Explorers" - well after that opening you need a cool down, and this was perfect. Certainly not one of their biggest or best known, but really worked in a stadium. Slight loss of vocals at one point.
09. "Hysteria" - Another crowd favourite, played with enthusiasm, if not anything new for the seasoned fan.
10. "Feeling Good" - similarly to "Animals," this was accompanied by a video of a business woman feverishly chatting away on a phone before coming out on stage and drowning herself with petrol... Didn't really work. Not sure how this links to "Feeling Good"? Equally would've rather she sprayed the crowd with water than herself!
09. "Follow Me" - the second of in the no-instruments dance from Bellamy. Again this one worked, and is far more enjoyable in a stadium than on the record.
10. "Liquid State" - Chris Wolstenholmes live debut. Still not entirely comfortably with the role of the leading man. This song was also crying out for a big improvised ending. It was instead played almost note for note like the track.
11. "Madness" - Another one designed for a stadium singalong which it duely got, and was probably the loudest of the night.
12. "Time Is Running Out" - See "Hysteria." Same applies.
13. "Stockholm Syndrome" - this must have been played at every live show since 2003, and was at one time the highlight of the show. Now it's more a formality with lessening improvisation, and lacking the passion of past performances like Earl's Court. As great as it is, it may be time to drop it from the set, as the performances are going downhill.
14. "Unintended" played at HAARP, and was a surprising hit then. This time, again, and increasingly looking like the 6th member of Take That, Matt Bellamy performed with no instruments. Overall it was just repeating something that shouldn't have been repeated, and made it worse in the process.
15. "Guiding Light" - didn't expect this to live beyond the Resistance tour, and in truth, although I like this song, it probably shouldn't have done. Even the presence of a giant light bulb with a ballerina coming out the bottom was uninspiring, with a similar gimic being used since the Absolution tours. Why not do something new? Again no instrument except for the solo, and by this point its starting to get really uncomfortable.
16. "Blackout" - I think Muse have a real love of this song. It keeps coming back though I have no idea why. Bellamy sung half of this lying on the floor... Which just came over slightly egotistical and poppy. The song's really not worth keeping on the set list either.
17. "Undisclosed Desires" - Still no instruments. Followed by running through the crowd and singing and pointing into the camera with feigned emotions. All a bit boy-band-ish. And the third dud in a row.
18. "Unsustainable" - by this point the atmosphere had notably flattened. Four slow, and largely not popular songs in a row was a big mistake. Whilst this song is of a different, it was always unlikely to be a crowd favourite, and so it proved. This one was greeted by a giant robot, although after the pyrotechnics of "Supremacy," I was expecting it to do something, which bar a bit of smoke from the ear it didn't. My favourite part of this song is also the bit were Bellamy sings, but this time we took the opposite approach and only played guitar. That said this song is made for the big stage and the accentuation of the big hits did add value.
19. "Supermassive Black Hole" - Finally the show starts up again, although a bit too late. Lively performance, although would've been better if it'd followed directly on from "Unsustainable." Putting a gap in between was a missed opportunity. Also the improvisation this song has on the HAARP recording was almost entirely removed.
20. "Survival" - made for the live stage and performed like it. Massive ending which would've made a great end to the show, but...
21. "Isolated Systems" - we have a second encore. This was again good live, although by this point the set list was so disjointed it was just getting silly. Great drumming section at the end from Dom though.
22. "Uprising" - would've probably made a more obvious starter to the encore, and sort of was (with "Isolated Systems" being a transitional piece). All the band members donned red for this, and had themselves multiplied on screens behind them. It worked well, but the aforementioned issues meant this lacked the impact it should've had. It did at least feature the live ending, not the recorded one.
23. "Starlight" - the final act in the no-instruments dance from Bellamy. Flattened the song for me. Good sing-along, but "Survival" would've made a much better finisher. Good for a sing and clap along. Not a stadium tour decider. // 6
Overall Impression: Overall a good show, but a disappointment by previous standards. Not helped by relatively unknown openers - We Are the Ocean and Arcane Roots, or a really poor stadium. The Olimpico has seen much better days, and the exclusive use of porta-loos for the standing crowd, was horrendous. I've been to some pretty grim festivals toilets but I can assure you these are the worst I've ever encountered - the smell inside was so pungent many a man emerged from them with tears in his eyes). Still it was full to the brim, which is it's one (and only) advantage over the Wembley shows of tours past.
For the band, I have concerns. Bellamy's showing signs of a ego that is growing bigger than the band can handle. It's just uncomfortable watching him act like some hideous cross between Mike Hucknell and Justin Beiber whilst the rest of the band sit/stand around and actually play the music. This, coupled with Chris' emerging interest in song writing and the slight dip ION quality with "The 2nd Law" record, makes me feel that the next album may well be the last. I hope I'm wrong, but it's never looked so much like "Matt Bellamy with Muse" as it did at this show.
Still, as a life long Muse fan, I'll certainly be on the next tour regardless and for those new to the phenomenon that is Muse live, you're probably better to read my overall score upside down. I've marked them against their own standards, and unfortunately it's a marked decline.