Muse plays like angels on ‘H.A.A.R.P.’

Brenna McNamara

Photo courtesy of Warner Bros.

Credit: Ron Soltys


H.A.A.R.P. (live CD and DVD)

Warner Bros.

Stater rating (out of five): *****

Muse has stockpiled 18 awards for their live efforts, and H.A.A.R.P is a perfect example of why.

It is epic.

The set comprises two sold-out performances at the 90,000-seat Wembley Stadium in London. It includes a 14-track CD from the June 16 performance and a 20-track DVD from the June 17 performance.

From the opening seconds when the band appears in the center of the packed stadium and walks down a catwalk to the monstrous stage, adrenaline is pumping. “Knights of Cyndonia” starts like a hurricane and from then on, there is no lull in the whirlwind concert that has been termed the best British live show of 2007.

Live DVDs can be sloppy or boring, but this one is art. The technicolor dream stage is seen clearly from overshots of the stadium. The panels behind the stage never take a rest, always looking like a visualizer flashing pictures of space or trippy, melting graphics. Even the three band members are a separate piece of art among the detailed stage: vocalist and guitarist Matt Bellamy wears a red suit that contrasts with a white shirt, drummer Dom Howard flaunts neon green trousers and bassist Chris Wolstenholme wears a crisp black suit. Two huge satellites tower over the band, which go along with the show’s spacy theme (H.A.A.R.P. stands for High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program, a program that studies the ionosphere in order to better communication. Bellamy is big on conspiracy theories and doubts the program’s mission statement).

The impressibility that Muse has on the world may not be fully incarnated in Americans, but it is apparent in the British crowd. In addition to the 90,000 seats, the entire floor of the stadium is covered with a young crowd that is completely immersed in the music, whether through singing along or the sweat dripping over eyebrows. They are perfectly obedient to the band. If Bellamy, Wolstenholme or Howard begins a clap sequence, you bet it will be picked up by the entire audience within a second, flat. Overshots of the crowd look like an ocean of movement, with perfectly synchronized jumping, clapping and swaying.

The quality of the music matches the outrageous set. Muse’s already powerful music is only magnified live. Every instrument can be heard perfectly. Each member’s talent for crisp and precise execution is apparent in the DVD. The nearly 2-hour performance begins with strong numbers “Knights of Cydonia,” “Hysteria” and “Supermassive Black Hole.” Bellamy takes some time to play “Apocalypse Please,” “Hoodoo,” and “Feeling Good” on the piano (that is partly clear glass and looks awesome under the lights) that he plays like a concert pianist. Other standout tracks include “Butterflies and Hurricanes,” “Time is Running Out,” “Invincible” and “Take a Bow.”

The performance is colossal and cannot disappoint anyone, Muse fan or not.

Contact all reporter Brenna McNamara at [email protected].