An explosive performance. Exceeding expectations.
Even as the roadies are removing Morrissey’s stage and erecting Muse’s, it is obvious that this performance is going to be something special. The stage setup consists of industrial-looking metal stage blocks, an equally stylized synthesizer, complete with mutli-coloured lights, and rows of lights on the floor of the stage. The presence of four microphones around the stage seems to confuse some fans, who know that Muse were only three people, and can do the maths. The use of four microphones, we will later discover, allows Matt Bellamy (guitar, vocals) and Chris Wolstenholme (bass, backing vocals) to take up different positions on the stage for different songs.
The tension at the front of the Pyramid Stage crowd tonight is growing by the minute. Fans are wedged in tight, unable to move any part of their body but grinning like mentalists at the prospect of being within a few metres of their idols in the near future. Some fans had been on the barrier for around eight hours, having to survive through James Brown’s insistence that everyone should ‘get funky’ on nothing but the soggy cups of water handed around by the security staff.
Eventually, just as the atmosphere is at combustion point, threatening to leave Pilton village as a crater in the Somerset countryside, the noise starts and the band appear. The feedback continues through the cheering crowd before exploding into ‘Hysteria’. At the front of the crowd, ‘up’ and ‘down’ lose all meaning, there is just Muse. Chris’ fuzz bass is alive and bouncing to the rhythm pounded out by Dominic Howard (drums); this is quite possibly the most violent a crowd has been at Glastonbury this year.
Muse play a fantastic set, built of their more famous singles and album. What can be said about a headlining band’s performance? If it wasn’t going to be great, they wouldn’t be headlining the final night of the Glastonbury Festival. The songs are interspersed with jamming and noise and your general Muse experience. Matt doesn’t communicate a lot, a few “thank yous” and the now clichéd ‘this song was designed for lighters’ before ‘Blackout’.
The set isn’t as long as Paul McCartney’s from Saturday night, culminating with ‘Stockholm Syndrome’, before Matt slowly removes all of Dom’s drums while Chris is being groped by the crowd. Matt mounts Dom’s kick drum and plays to him, a scene I am sure will live on in the dreams of hundreds of Muse fans, female and male. Chris hurls his bass at the stage, but Matt is still going. Everyone knows it’s the end, everyone is satisfied. Matt and Chris disappear and leave Dom to say goodbye.
Many fans instantly declare this to be Muse’s finest performance ever. Everyone is left full of adrenaline, ready to pull and all-nighter to end the festival. Unfortunately, whether or not this is Muse’s best ever performance, it will forever be tainted in the memory of the band, for that same evening, drummer, Dominic Howard’s father died of a heart attack.