Muse – Absolution Tour

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DVD Review by Mark Bayross

Life, as someone no doubt once said, is a funny old game. Just when you are on top of the world something comes along to bring you back down to earth with a kick in the balls. This DVD chronicles just such an event, as it features the band’s all-conquering headlining performance on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury 2004, a show which the band claimed was one of the best of their lives but was followed by drummer Dominic Howard’s father collapsing and dying merely an hour afterwards.

Despite this tragedy and the mixed feelings that night must conjure up for the band, they have chosen to preserve the show on DVD, something to keep us going until the new album arrives in May next year.

The show is cropped to 12 songs but contains classic after classic, with riotous opener HYSTERIA leading into NEW BORN, SING FOR ABSOLUTION and MUSCLE MUSEUM, each somehow upping the ante in energy and drama. Matt Bellamy, ever the precocious showman, is on top form as ever, throwing himself into the music like a demented hybrid of Hendrix, Mozart and Chuck Berry, while Chris Wolstenholme remains a rock of head-banging composure on bass (a contradiction in terms, I know, but watch it and see) and Dom pounds his drum kit like he’s just caught it sleeping with his girlfriend.

Of course, this is Muse, a band for whom half-measures do not exist, and every performance they give fizzes with edge-of-seat power, but this one seems to be especially electric. Improvisation and controlled chaos abound, particularly on the epic BUTTERFLIES AND HURRICANES, while TIME IS RUNNING OUT and PLUG IN BABY have the huge crowd bouncing along in carefree abandon.

Extras on the DVD include a couple of songs from their December shows at Earl’s Court (which I was lucky enough to see) and two live performances from their tour of the States, including one at an almost absurdly tiny club in Cincinnati.

The only misleading part of the DVD is the title – this falls somewhat short as a document of the Absolution Tour – maybe they thought “Live At Glastonbury” was a bit too obvious? So long as you buy it in the knowledge that it mainly covers one performance – and an astonishing one at that – then this is an essential purchase.

5 stars