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Concert Review by Annabel Bayross

London Arena, Docklands – 13 November 2001

Arriving at the London Arena we were bombarded with teen angst – hardcore ‘Green Day’ fans accompanied by their dads, skidding around the arena and generally corroding the atmosphere. They didn’t really care about Muse, they wanted their fizzy pop and nothing was going to deter them.

Sadly, these distracting surroundings thwarted the charged excitement of the opening song and while the intense energetic performance crashed into the arena the crowd shuffled nonchalantly with an adolescent grungy edge. The leather clad ‘Edward Scissorhands’-like Matt Bellamy soared through ‘Sunburn’ and ‘Muscle Museum’ with a penetrating kind of vitality but the two-thirds filled arena wasn’t having much of it. Standing at the back you were surrounded by 30 something’s with folded arms refusing to let themselves go, moving closer to the front you ran the risk of tripping over snogging 15 year-olds – time for a beer?

Nope – they’ve sold out, but from the bar you can distinguish in the distance the operatic, howling ascension of the spine tingling ‘Micro Cuts’. Rushing back in to capture the revived mood (surely?) we find ourselves back where we started. But hold on, can I detect a rise in enthusiasm at the opening of the next song…the weighty cover of ‘Feeling Good’, what a surprise that that would be the one that roused the kids from their sleepy slumber.

Bellamy proves just how talented he and the band are. Through a lot of the songs he is at the back of the stage playing the keyboard with accomplished flair and the bassist isn’t half giving it some too. After a blinding rendition of ‘Hyper Music’, an impromptu battering of the guitar is witnessed and we watch it soar into the air for some lucky person to scramble over. For a three-piece band, the sound they created was pretty awesome, but the mike wasn’t quite loud enough to cope, resulting in a vacuumed, capsulated kind of resonance.

The crowd inevitably surged when the superb ‘New Born’ and unrivalled ‘Plug In Baby’ were executed. But while trying to immerse myself into the swirling visceral sounds, I looked around and saw a big flat void. I blame Muse for that. They could have done two sell-out nights at Brixton and it would have had an atmosphere that they so rightly deserved. I don’t know whether they played an encore, we left early and on our way out we spotted a sign pointing the way to ‘confiscated items’. Picturing in my head a queue of boys with grazed knees collecting their catapults from the bouncers, I had to chuckle.