Live Review: Muse return to Australia with a scaled back production, but same high octane live show in Sydney

After four very long years, Muse made an extremely welcome return to Australian shores at Qudos Bank Arena in Sydney on Saturday night for their first of only two shows in the country this year.  Having skipped Australia on the recent Drones World Tour, it was wonderful to get the opportunity to see them on this side of the globe again.

Support act, UK-based Nothing But Thieves kicked things off with a short but rock solid set, showing the Australian audience why they are consistently selling out shows and wowing crowds back home. They’ll be heading back this way in the early part of next year and you should definitely seek them out.

Muse has made a name for itself with spectacular, all-encompassing productions for the live shows, so it was a little bit of a shock to the system to feel how basic this stage setup was, and what appeared to be minimal production. This is, however, Muse and one should never make assumptions about anything they do. If anything, this particular production setup lent itself beautifully to a show which felt more about the music than anything else, yet constantly and elegantly supported with the impeccable visuals of the Muse creative team. Having seen them in many arena and stadium shows, this is probably the most intimate show of theirs I’ve experienced.

Musically, they can’t be faulted. Matt Bellamy seems to be getting better and better with age as both a vocalist and performer, and this gig was particularly enjoyable because it felt somewhat pared-back so the audience could really appreciate the musicianship. Drummer Dominic Howard is a phenomenal anchor and makes it all look ridiculously easy, whilst bass maestro Chris Wolstenholme left me frequently breathless with both the tone and intricacy of his bass lines. I must mention the drum and bass jam between Howard and Wolstenholme – as a lover of the rhythm section their duets are always a highlight, but the “D’n’B Drones” is mind-bending.  So good.  Also, the looping drum sequence in “Isolated System” is an absolute cracker.

It was a bit of a best-of setlist, which is no bad thing, with favourites including “Take A Bow”, “Time Is Running Out”, and the ever-mighty “Stockholm Syndrome”, as well as their cover of The Cramps’ “New Kind of Kick”, which they released for Hallowe’en in 2016.

Standout production moment would be the epic “Globalist”, with breathtakingly beautiful visuals that kept the audience spellbound, even when the band had left the stage.  Glorious.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the immense productions Muse use for their tours, but it was so lovely to really feel like it was just us and them in the room tonight.

We missed you, Muse.  Hurry back.

The reviewer attended this show on December 16th.

Photos by Gwen Lee.