- Gareth Crook
Muse: Simulation Theory (2020)
With no gigs happening right now, I thought I’d give this a go. I used to be really into Muse, loved their first two albums. They didn’t sound like anything else around at the time. Fusing synth sounds with no nonsense power rock, it appealed to the Depeche Mode fan in me. Of course they were always a bit over the top, but began to take it to levels that would embarrass even Queen. I lost interest. I’ve not listened to this latest offering, so I’m coming into Simulation Theory cold. Matt Bellamy loves a good conspiracy I’m lead to believe. So what we have here is essentially a concept gig, cut with Tron style graphics and highly choreographed video inserts. It’s big, bold and batshit. A cybertastic riff heavy rock opera. If you don’t like Muse even a little bit, don’t bother, this will not convince you. If you do like them, well it’s worth a watch I suppose. Regarding all the extra fluff around the songs, it is just that. Like a Stranger Things plot that was wisely dropped. Window dressing for a live performance of some fairly dull songs. The new stuff is as cold and clinical as the ridiculous amount of lasers bouncing around the screen. Perfectly illustrated by the O2 crowd who aside from the pit that the cameras do their best to stay close and tight on, barely move a muscle. Trust me, I know an excited crowd when I see one... this isn’t one. I will say that Dig Down does seem to land well, the phone torches are out as the band band rip off George Michael. The old stuff still sounds good though and it does lift. Muse have 9 albums now (I had to check Spotify), but it’s only the bangers that really land, which gives them a good 10 songs at least that they could roll out and bludgeon any stadium into orgasmic oblivion, the don’t do that here though. When songs like Supermassive Blackhole and Uprising with their rumbling bass and glam stomp get an airing, it just proves how thin the rest of the set is. It really is a crap set. We have to wait until the end for a ‘Metal Medley’ that shoehorns bits of Stockholm Syndrome, Assassin and New Born together. I will say the production values are exceptional high. It’s a SHOW! Both in the set design (which amusing does look very phallic) and the incidentals of the narrative plot they’ve tried to weave through it. They’ve certainly not cut corners. It’s all too clean though, hyper-stylised and dare I say indulgent, yes I dare. I’m in stitches as Bellamy holds a chrome skull aloft in some Shakespearian parody. It depends what ticks your box though I guess. If you really love Muse and if you’re in the room witnessing this live, I’ll grant you it’s probably pretty good. As a concert film though, it’s rubbish.
4/10 (a point for each listenable song)