Review: Muse rock the Barclaycard Arena with a barnstorming performance

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There are not many British bands around with the kind of reputation Muse have for their live performances.

And at the Barclaycard Arena in Birmingham on Saturday April 2, they cemented that reputation with a typically grandiose two-hour set played in the middle of the arena as part of their Drones World Tour.

Before Muse appeared, the crowd experienced Essex band Nothing But Thieves, who played their Muse-inspired repertoire with real confidence despite the intimidating stage setup.

A half-hour wait later, and several giant bubble-shaped drones slowly descended from high up in the arena, hovering menacingly over the crowd as a haunting vocal harmony played.

Suddenly, the band rose up from unseen platforms, and got straight into proceedings with ‘Psycho’, taken from their latest album Drones.

The sound was excellent throughout the concert - Matt Bellamy has lost none of his vocal prowess and dexterity with a guitar over the years, and was ably supported by tight drumming from Dominic Howard and powerful bass riffs from Chris Wolstenholme.

The 360 setup was not perfect - the visuals were a little muddled as you could not see everything all at once.

And while occasional interludes consisting of anti-war speeches threatened to make the whole thing a little pretentious, these were few and far between and the band soon got things back on track by just playing their excellent back-catalogue.

The crowd responded most to classics like ‘Plug in Baby’, ‘Time is Running Out’ and ‘Supermassive Black Hole’ rather than Muse’s newer material. That said, their more recent songs were still well-received.

Muse got the balance of newer material and fan favourites absolutely spot-on, and by the end of the two hours, the arena was in the palm of their hand during the barnstorming ‘Knights of Cydonia.’

The Devon three-piece have come a long way since their formation, and can quite rightly call themselves one of the best live bands in the country after this performance.